Worldwide rights to the comedy Bad Words, directed by and starring Jason Bateman, have been acquired by Focus Features for a 2014 theatrical release. Focus CEO James Schamus and co-CEO Andrew Karpen made the announcement at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the movie is having its world premiere, Deadline said.
Bad Words, a Darko Entertainment/Aggregate Films/MXN production, was represented at Toronto by Creative Artists Agency and Hicks Professional Law Corporation, which made the deal with Focus at the Festival. The movie is the feature directorial debut of Bateman, who last starred in the blockbuster comedy Identity Thief and is currently an Emmy Award nominee for Arrested Development. Bateman is also a producer of the new movie through his company Aggregate, with Academy Award nominee Mason Novick (Juno) of MXN and Darko’s Sean McKittrick and Jeff Culotta. Andrew Dodge wrote the original screenplay; it is his first to be produced, and it was selected for “The Black List” in 2011.
In the movie, Bateman portrays Guy Trilby, a 40-year-old man seeking catharsis in his life. He seizes the ideal that this will come for him through…the National Spelling Bee; after discovering a loophole in the rules, Guy zealously joins the competition and easily outpaces the pre-teen field in match after match. As reporter Jenny Widgeon (Kathryn Hahn of Afternoon Delight) delves into Guy’s story, Guy finds himself forging an unlikely friendship with a competitor, awkward 10-year-old Chaitanya (Rohan Chand of Homeland), which may spell things differently for his future. Bad Words also stars Screen Actors Guild Award winner Allison Janney, Ben Falcone (Bridesmaids), Rachael Harris (The Hangover), and Philip Baker Hall (Argo).
“Probably the most effective pipe bomb of misanthropic comedy since Bad Santa, Bad Words goes to one of America's most innocent institutions, the spelling bee, and not only introduces forbidden words but exposes a spirit nasty enough to contaminate the whole enterprise. Andrew Dodge's script, which refuses any attempt to make its protagonist likeable but gives him lines too funny not to laugh at, must have looked like a gift from Heaven to star Jason Bateman, whose big-screen outings sometimes don't get that the actor is so sympathetic his characters don't need to be. Choosing it for his debut as director, Bateman demonstrates the same knack for timing and fine shadings of attitude as he does onscreen. The pic should do great business for Focus Features, who snapped it up,” The Hollywood Reporter said in a review.