Jason Bateman embraces the inherent callousness of his performance here in his directorial debut, putting what’s usually relegated to a sidenote of line delivery in his usual performances front and centre here as he plays a caustic, petty man taking delight in upstaging and insulting children. Perhaps it’s no surprise that as a director he understands the funniest aspect of the type of characters he plays so well does better as a main event rather than a shading note (or perhaps the fourth season of Arrested Development helped him wise up to that).
The film itself is frequently funny, but the story is perfunctory and there isn’t enough meat on the bone to sustain interest for the entire runtime. Still, the premise and cast is strong enough to keep things sailing smoothly even when the last act gets a bit ropey and sentimental. Bateman directs the film without much flair (give or take a shot or two) but keeps a good handle on the tricky tone for most of the runtime. Three misspellings and a police car.