Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney in Bad Education.

Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney are terrific in Bad Education, a dark comedy based on the true story of Frank Tassone and the Long Island school-district embezzlement scheme that brought him down.

Jackman plays Tassone, a vain superintendent who gnashes his teeth when Pam Gluckin (Janney), one of his co-workers, is accused of embezzlement; he throws her under the bus, so to speak. As the drama plays out, it is slowly revealed that Tassone not only participated in some wrongdoing—but might, in fact, be the ringleader of an even bigger theft.

Jackman gives one of his very best performances as Tassone, a consummate sociopath who seriously has no idea what a boldfaced criminal he is. Janney is his equal as Gluckin, who possesses about half of his sociopathic tendencies, but is equally clueless. Supporting-performance greatness abounds from Ray Romano, Stephanie Kurtzuba and Alex Wolff.

Director Cory Finley strikes a nice balance of dark humor and bleak sadness. (It really is quite awful to see these dummies screwing up.) Some lazily written back-story involving Tassone’s sexuality is not enough to kill the effectiveness of the film.

Bad Education is currently airing on HBO and is available on HBO’s streaming services.