Jason Bateman‘s Bad Words, a tartly ascerbic spelling-bee comedy aimed at the diminishing ranks of non-moronic moviegoers, went over extremely well at the Ryerson last night. It’s a kind of Rushmore-meets-Bad Santa piece about a pissed-off, close-cropped 40something guy (Bateman) who takes advantage of a loophole to compete against kids in the National Quill Spelling Bee competition, and in so doing bonds/warms up to/gets down with a reporter (Kathryn Hahn) and a 10 year-old Indian kid (Rohan Chand) as he seeks a kind of satisfaction that has nothing to do with winning the $50,000 first prize. Dry, subdued, bordering-on-perverse performances + Andrew Dodge‘s witty-ass, occasionally scatalogical screenplay resulted in much laughter with some in the audience wondering if the film goes “too far,” as one questioner inquired. Trust me, the “too far” stuff is one of the main reasons the film went over so well.

At Toronto’s Ryerson theatre last night following screening of Bad Words (l. ro r.) director-star Jason Bateman, costars Rohan Chand, Kathryn Hand.

Before the 9:30 pm Bad Words screening I caught a reasonable-sized portion of Jonathan Teplitzky‘s Railway Man (which Variety‘s Peter Debruge has called “overly stodgy…decidedly old-fashioned…dull as ditchwater…too sensitive for the masses”) before respectfully bailing and tapping out that Japanese POW camp piece. I had planned to stay for a 9:30 pm Roy Thomson Hall screening of Peter Landesman‘s Parkland and then catch Bad Words late this morning at a p & i screening, but I didn’t want to put up with the almost guaranteed half-hour delays at RTH due to pomp and speeches and whatnot so I went to the Bateman and whama hit! Full house, good energy, yoks & howls & whoo-hoos. The evening ended with a Parkland party at Toronto’s Soho House, where I spoke briefly with Landesman before escaping around midnight.

I’ll be seeing Parkland at 9 am (i.e., 70 minutes from now) at the Scotiabank plex, followed by three much-anticipated screenings — Jean-Marc Vallee‘s Dallas Buyer’s Club (expected to contain a Best Actor-calibre performance from Matthew McConaughey), Nicole Holofcener‘s Enough Said and then a gala screening this evening of Justin Chadwick‘s Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom.

Who’s that guy with the open-collared blue shirt and the look of trepidation standing behind 12 Years A Slave producer and costar Brad Pitt? Some kind of security goon? I hate guys like this. “I’m just here to watch for suspicious activity so nothing happens to my client,” etc. Fuck you. You’re bringing down the vibe.

Railway Man costars Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth with director Jonathan Taplitzky last night at Roy Thomson Hall

OParkland director Peter Landesman at Soho House party.

12 Years A Slave costar Michael Fassbender, director Steve McQueen.