Bad Words: Under His Spell

by Ethan Alter March 14, 2014 6:00 am
<i>Bad Words</i>: Under His Spell

The title of Jason Bateman's directorial debut, Bad Words, isn't the only thing that's reminiscent of another dark comedy about a not-very-nice-person, 2003's holiday classic, Bad Santa. Both films seek to get a lot of comic mileage out of watching their central creeps treat everyone around them -- adults and, especially, children -- like dirt as they put in motion a scheme for personal fun and profit. Where Bad Santa has the courage of its convictions, though, Bad Words gets squishy and sentimental as it approaches its endgame, operating on the mistaken assumption that it needs to explain its anti-hero's pathology and, thus, let him off the hook for his behavior.

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