It’s not hard to imagine Jason Bateman as being a mean-spirited piece of work: he came off like that as a child TV actor and it was probably in Arrested Development that he obtained a sympathetic persona. Here he’s entirely credible as a bitter vicious forty year old exploiting a loophole in the legendary children’s Spelling Bee championships to get his revenge for a childhood situation. Assisting him is a journo along for the ride and a great story, played by Kathryn Hahn (who with her up-do disturbingly resembles someone I know in public service who spends a lot of time in a psych ward…). The interchanges with the kids are lewd, nasty and funny. Allison Janney and Philip Baker Hall round out an impressive cast. Bateman made his directing debut here from a screenplay by Andrew Dodge. A very enjoyable black comedy particularly if you’re having a bad day!