Bad Education is a 2019 American comedy-drama film directed by Cory Finley and written by Mike Makowsky, based on the New York magazine article “The Bad Superintendent” by Robert Kolker. The film features an ensemble cast, including Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney, Geraldine Viswanathan, Alex Wolff, Rafael Casal, Stephen Spinella, Annaleigh Ashford, and Ray Romano.
The film is set in the Long Island village of Roslyn during the early 2000s. It tells the story of the charismatic and esteemed Dr. Frank Tassone (Jackman) and Pam Gluckin (Janney), who steal millions of dollars from the same public school district that they seek to make the best in the country. The film is based on the true story of the largest public school embezzlement in American history. The screenwriter, Makowsky, briefly met Tassone as a child before the scandal broke and attended Roslyn High School in the late 2000s.
Bad Education made its world premiere on September 8, 2019, at the Toronto International Film Festival and was broadcast on HBO on April 25, 2020. It was well-received by film critics, with particular praise for Makowsky’s screenplay and the performances of Jackman and Janney.
Using cheery smiles and go-getter glares to conceal profound depths of resentment, ambition, and greed, Hugh Jackman gives the performance of his career as Roslyn, Long Island public school superintendent Dr. Frank Tassone in Bad Education. A dramatic account of the historic embezzlement scandal that engulfed Tassone and his colleagues—most notably, assistant superintendent Pam Gluckin (Allison Janney)—Cory Finley’s film (based on Robert Kolker’s New York Magazine article) is a ruthlessly efficient and even-keeled affair about the intense pressures of suburban academia, where educational-ranking achievements and college acceptance rates are intimately intertwined with real-estate prices. The director lays out the myriad forces at play in this ostensibly picture-perfect milieu in exacting detail, and his preference for long takes means that the focus remains squarely on his performers. That, in turn, allows the HBO feature to rest on the sturdy shoulders of Jackman, who never resorts to caricature in embodying Tassone as a discontent striver whose eagerness for validation dovetailed with his lifelong deceptiveness, to disastrous ends.