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The 7 Best And 7 Worst Jason Bateman Movies Ranked

While Jason Bateman is arguably most famous for his extensive TV work, which ranges from "Ozark" to "Arrested Development," he's built up a solid and quietly expansive resume of feature film appearances as well. Many of Bateman's motion picture acting credits have been in big, broad comedies, like "Horrible Bosses" or "Office Christmas Party," while even the Oscar-friendly dramas he's appeared in, such as "Up in the Air," feature a variety of comedic touches. Having appeared regularly in movies since the late 1980s, Bateman's been in enough projects to ensure that not all of them have been modern masterpieces, but at the same time, he's also secured appearances in some truly beloved features.

The seven best and seven worst reviewed movies in Jason Bateman's filmography reflect these highs and lows in his feature film career. The films also capture the wide array of famous faces he's worked with over the years, not to mention the specific qualities that often define his very best movies. Looking through the peaks and valleys of his film career, one can see the stumbles Bateman has taken, but also appreciate his bolder swings that have solidified him as a well-liked actor beyond just his TV resume.

One note before going forward: this piece excludes movies like "Zootopia," where Bateman only provides voice work, or films like "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" or "Central Intelligence," where he only appears in a brief cameo.

Worst: Thunder Force

Jason Bateman's played a wide variety of characters in his career, but he's never played somebody like his "Thunder Force" character, Jerry/The Crab. This is entirely due to Jerry being Bateman's only character to have lobster claws where he should have hands. One of many heightened super-powered individuals in this comedic superhero movie, Bateman is also one of several notable actors (including Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer, and Bobby Cannavale, among many others) to appear in Ben Falcone's directorial effort. Combining so many recognizable names with a high-concept storyline, though, wasn't enough to make a critically acclaimed comedy.

Like many of the movies Falcone has directed, "Thunder Force" was savaged by critics. Most reviewers commended the likes of McCarthy and Spencer for doing all they could to inject some energy into the proceedings, but few felt that the movie wrung all that many laughs out of its central premise. Worse, there was also rampant criticism of cast members like Cannavale not getting anything significant to do and recurring observations that this feature walked into a crowded landscape of comedic superhero parodies and failed to bring anything new to the table. "Thunder Force" gave Bateman a chance to play a crabbier character than usual, but that wasn't enough to make this woebegotten comedy all that super.

Best: Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

Jason Bateman, in the first of two collaborations with director Rawson Marshall Thurber, showed up for a small role in "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story" as sports commentator Pepper Brooks. He may not have the presence that actors like Vince Vaughn and Rip Torn have in "Dodgeball," but Bateman's performance as a dim-witted yet totally serious observer of sports yields plenty of laughs. The impact of his work in "Dodgeball" is especially apparent in the way that his line, "It's a bold strategy, Cotton, let's see how it works out for him," has turned into a ubiquitous meme. An actor like Bateman doesn't need a deluge of screen time to leave an enormous impression.

It wasn't just Bateman's funniest lines which ensured that critics gave positive marks to "Dodgeball." The film also garnered praise for how well-cast it was, with performers like Torn and Stephen Root being especially praised. Similarly highlighted in most reviews was how the film carried a welcome and endearing affection for its outsider protagonists. This wasn't a movie looking to make a mockery of unorthodox sports heroes; it rooted for them as hard as the audience. That endearing spirit, not to mention an avalanche of funny (if sophomoric) jokes, ensured that "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story" was a critical hit. It didn't hurt, too, that Jason Bateman was on hand to deliver some lines that would endure in the public consciousness for years to come.

Worst: The Ex

Hot off his 2004 directorial effort, "Garden State," the possibilities seemed to be endless for Zach Braff's film career. On paper, the 2007 comedy "The Ex" seemed to be a great next step towards solidifying his mainstream appeal, especially since this project paired him up with Jason Bateman as a wheelchair-bound romantic competitor to Braff's protagonist. Bateman was also moving up in the world of big-screen features at this point thanks to scene-stealing performances in movies like "The Break-Up" and "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story." But both actors hit a massive speed bump in their film careers with "The Ex," since it ended up becoming a massive dud with critics.

The performances weren't deemed the biggest problem with "The Ex." Bateman's work in particular was often highlighted in reviews as one of the film's strong points. Instead, the generic direction and incredibly broad nature of the unfunny gags were widely dubbed the worst elements of the feature. There were also widespread complaints that Braff just didn't make for an interesting or likable protagonist. On paper, pairing up Braff and Bateman for a comedy should have yielded some interesting results. Instead, it produced one of the most critically-derided entries in both men's filmographies.

Best: The Family Fang

The titular clan of "The Family Fang" has never been normal and rarely do its most eccentric members ever behave by the book. Still, Baxter (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Nicole Kidman) become gravely concerned when their parents (Christopher Walken and Maryann Plunkett) suddenly vanish without a trace. Considering their parents are famous for pulling off extravagant hoaxes, Baxter and Annie are now digging around for clues and wondering what's really going on. Getting to the bottom of this mystery was a trip that many critics found to be well worth taking.

The generally positive notices for "The Family Fang" acknowledged several notable flaws in the film, including messy storytelling choices and strange tonal shifts that didn't quite work in the plot. However, reviewers were also generally pleased with Bateman's very precise directorial sensibilities as well as how good the performances were in the stacked cast. The film's exploration of how dedicating oneself to art can leave one isolated from loved ones also proved popular among reviewers. While far from a perfect movie, "The Family Fang" was greeted largely with open arms by critics.

Worst: Love Stinks

Love is never easy and it's especially troublesome for the characters of "Love Stinks." Comedic mayhem ensues when the film's lead character (French Stewart) fails to propose to his girlfriend (Bridgette Wilson) in a timely fashion. The revenge-fueled shenanigans manage to also impact supporting character Jesse Travis (Jason Bateman). He may not be in the movie much, but Travis certainly feels the sting of the chaos that consumes "Love Stinks," especially once he realizes that, because of everything happening around him, "the quality of my babes is going down." 

There's a potential version of "Love Stinks" that was able to take all of its talented actors and utilize them beautifully in the service of romance-fueled hijinks. Unfortunately, the released version of "Love Stinks" was a trainwreck that was disparaged by critics near and far.

Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of reviews for "Love Stinks" used its title as inspiration for how to describe this uninspired comedy. There were also comments about how the whole production, from its gags to its cinematography, more heavily resembled a tired sitcom than something that would be found on the big screen, a comparison that was only enhanced by the presence of actors like French Stewart in the main cast. Love is always difficult, but rarely has it been as painful as the "comedy" that populated "Love Stinks."

Best: State of Play

Towards the end of "State of Play," a political thriller that has no shortage of star power thanks to the likes of Russell Crowe and Rachel McAdams, a new character enters the movie's complicated web of political intrigue. PR executive Dominic Foy (Jason Bateman) is revealed as a man who has critical information on the company he works for, PointCorp. Frantic and slimy, Foy allows Bateman to revel in his gift for playing conceited characters, albeit in more dramatic fashion. The committed performances from Bateman and the bevy of other famous faces in "Stare of Play" helped inform its super positive reception from critics.

While there was some criticism lobbed at certain major plot twists in "State of Play," critics were by and large impressed with its compelling screenplay and its dedication to playing things restrained. Rather than pepper the story with explosions and large-scale digressions, "State of Play" kept its focus largely between tense conversations and people snooping around for clues, which helped to create a claustrophobic atmosphere that critics applauded. The lead performances from actors like Crowe, McAdams, and Helen Mirren also inspired praise. Plus, delivering a sudden but plentiful dose of Jason Bateman certainly couldn't have hurt the movie's quest to garner favor with film critics.

Worst: Identity Thief

"Identity Thief" protagonist Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) is forced to deal with not just having his identity stolen, but having it taken by a chaotic lady played by Melissa McCarthy. The duo have to set out on a road trip together to make things right, with lots of wacky antics occurring along the way. Reuniting Bateman with "Horrible Bosses" director Seth Gordon, "Identity Thief" had two major comedy stars at its disposal, but that wasn't enough to make it a critical hit. On the contrary, most reviewers saw it as a massive step down from the best comedies Bateman and McCarthy had headlined in the past.

At the top of the list of complaints about "Identity Thief" is how its plot eventually dovetails into strange digressions involving violence and drug dealers. These elements feel massively at odds with a movie that is otherwise entirely concerned with slapstick gags and unimaginative sexual humor. When "Identity Thief" did stick to comedy, critics were still unamused and bemoaned how Bateman and McCarthy were so much better than the dismal material that this movie handed them. Flat filmmaking and strained attempts at sentimentality were just two more of the endless reasons critics were not taken away by "Identity Thief."

Best: Game Night

"Game Night" lead characters Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) are extremely competitive people: they'll leap on any grenade if it means getting to win a game or trivia contest. But they'll have to put their chops to the test when a mystery game night ends up involving an actual kidnapping. The danger is real, but the laughs still come at a steady pace in this directorial effort from John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. The hefty amount of laughs and polished filmmaking helped "Game Night" become one of Bateman's most acclaimed mainstream comedies.

Critics were impressed by many pieces that were on the board for "Game Night," but among the most praised aspects of the film was the delightful rapport between Bateman and McAdams. The duo was applauded for having such believable chemistry and bouncing off one another in an incredibly amusing manner. There were also commendations for the smartly-structured screenplay, the confidence in Daley and Goldstein's filmmaking, and unforgettable supporting performances from the likes of Jesse Plemons. Max and Annie would be all too happy to know that their movie "Game Night" was deemed a big winner by critics.

Worst: The Longest Week

In "The Longest Week," Jason Bateman plays Conrad Valmont, a man without much going on in his life beyond just crashing in the Manhattan hotel his parents own. But the divorce of his mom and dad forces Valmont to navigate a world of independent living, which leads him to potential love interest Beatrice Fairbanks (Olivia Wilde). All of this and other life-changing events happen over seven days, though considering the negative reviews that greeted "The Longest Week," it seemed to critics like Valmont's journey lasted an eternity.

A common thread among reviews for "The Longest Week" was constant recognition that this movie did assemble some truly talented actors, including Bateman, Wilde, and Billy Crudup as lead performers. Unfortunately, gathering such notable names didn't make much difference for the screenplay by Peter Glanz (who also directed). The script was lambasted for being predictable, lacking in distinct personality, and especially for failing to provide characters that audiences could get invested in. Glanz's filmmaking chops were also noted as being nowhere near good enough to help mitigate these significant storytelling shortcomings. Intended as a movie about profound self-discovery, "The Longest Week" instead served as a testament to how not even the talents of Jason Bateman could salvage a dismal script.

Best: Up in the Air

After working together on "Juno," Jason Bateman and director Jason Reitman reunited for the George Clooney drama "Up in the Air." Bateman plays Craig Gregory, the boss of the film's protagonist, Ryan Bingham (Clooney). His role isn't that large, but Bateman's nonchalantly oblivious and occasionally slimy attitude in his screen time reinforces the sort of dehumanizing atmosphere that Bingham has been immersed in. Bateman's Gregory is yet another example of how Bingham is surrounded by institutions and people who don't see human beings as human beings, but as commodities. That brutal perspective can be uncomfortable to watch in action, but it provides the basis for a compelling drama that was widely praised by critics.

Among the many beloved aspects of "Up in the Air" was its precision in blending insightful social commentary with engaging comedy. This was a film that offered biting commentary on the American economy in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, but critics were impressed by how "Up in the Air" didn't devolve into being either preachy or didactic. The performances of actors like Bateman, Clooney, and Anna Kendrick, among others, were also praised and seen as crucial to why "Up in the Air" proved so entertaining, despite touching on dark material.

Worst: Couples Retreat

A lavish getaway to a tropical resort always sounds like a dream come true. One would assume that a movie focusing on such a vacation would have to be equally pleasant. That's especially true when you're talking about the 2009 comedy "Couples Retreat," which assembled an all-star team of actors, including Vince Vaughn, Kristen Bell, and Jason Bateman, to portray a gaggle of couples working through their problems against a perfect backdrop. Unfortunately, "Couples Retreat" was nowhere near as pleasing to critics as its tropical locales, receiving largely savage reviews.

Despite a packed cast that also included Jon Favreau (who co-wrote the script with Vaughn), Kristin Davis, and Malin Akerman, critics were shocked at just how unfunny "Couples Retreat" was. The gags were perceived as incredibly unoriginal and not anywhere near worthy of the star-studded ensemble. Even worse, there was rampant criticism over how often the movie devolved into just offering generic life lessons or platitudes about the importance of traditional marriages, rather than even attempting laughs. Going to a tropical getaway should be an automatic recipe for fun and relaxation. But even such a luxurious location couldn't liven up the dreary "Couples Retreat."

Best: The Gift

When Simon (Jason Bateman) first runs into his old classmate Gordo (Joel Edgerton), nothing seems to be too out of the ordinary beyond Gordo being as unusual as ever. But as Gordo keeps trying to be part of Simon's life, not to mention the life of his wife Robyn (Rebecca Hall), suspicions begin to grow inside Simon's mind. He soon begins to think that Gordo is plotting something sinister, a hunch that ends up being more terrifyingly accurate than he could have ever imagined. The directorial debut of Joel Edgerton, "The Gift" was full of twists and turns and extremely well-received in its initial release.

Critics were effusive over the subversive tendencies of "The Gift," which were baked right into its casting. Many writers heaped praise on Bateman for eschewing his normal big-screen persona to play someone darker, a choice that immediately made the world of "The Gift" feel drenched with uncertainty. The way Edgerton's screenplay and direction kept viewers on the edge of their seats was also a source of acclaim. With "The Gift," moviegoers got to unwrap a very different package from the usual movie offerings anchored by Jason Bateman. The surprises inside, though unnerving, were very much worth experiencing.

Worst: Teen Wolf Too

Sometimes actors make their film debut with the kind of eye-catching performances that immediately make you sit up and pay attention. Their charisma and charm emanate off the screen so powerfully that you can immediately see the A-list star they'll eventually become. Unfortunately, Jason Bateman didn't quite have that experience. Way before headlining hit movies like "Game Night" or "Horrible Bosses," Bateman was the lead character of the 1987 feature "Teen Wolf Too." A sequel to the 1985 Michael J. Fox star vehicle "Teen Wolf," "Teen Wolf Too" was rated by critics as more painful than actually being torn to shreds by a werewolf.

The biggest issue with "Teen Wolf Too," as indicated by the critics, was its dire lack of laughs. Such a zany, featherweight movie didn't have much to offer in terms of depth or layered performances, so the laughs had to be top-notch to keep people's interest. Alas, "Teen Wolf Too" came up painfully short in funny gags, while Bateman was lambasted as being an unengaging lead performer in this particular role. Bateman would become associated with a wide range of highly-acclaimed films in years to come, making it all the more puzzling that his big-screen acting career kicked off with a critical turkey like "Teen Wolf Too."

Best: Juno

While the story of teenager Juno MacGuff (Elliot Page) in "Juno" begins with that teen's pregnancy, it soon expands to include a whole slew of people, including a couple, Mark (Jason Bateman) and Vanessa Loring (Jennifer Garner), who are aiming to adopt Juno's baby. This already unique dynamic gets even more strained once it's revealed that Mark has developed romantic feelings for Juno. These are the kind of complicated relationships that populate Diablo Cody's script, which, in the hands of filmmaker Jason Reitman and an exceptionally strong cast, became a critical darling.

Part of what made "Juno" so beloved by critics was how masterfully Cody's screenplay balanced whip-smart postmodern cynicism with genuine pathos, a mixture that created a comedy unlike any other in 2007. The performances of the entire cast, especially Page in an unforgettable lead turn, were also a source of admiration, as was Reitman's quietly thoughtful filmmaking. Thanks to the work by artists like Page, Bateman, and the rest of the cast, "Juno" was able to excel as a movie that could amuse you with its cynical humor one minute before touching your soul without missing a beat. No wonder this feature is the best-reviewed movie Jason Bateman has ever appeared in.