Movie Review: Identity Thief (**)

Movie Review: Identity Thief (**)


Genre: Comedy

Rating: R

Running Time: 1 hour 51 mins.

Premise: When his identity is stolen, buttoned-up accountant Sandy Bigelow Patterson (Jason Bateman) heads down to Florida to get the thief (Melissa McCarthy) and bring her back home to Denver so he can clear his name and keep his job.

Behind-the-Scenes: Director Seth Gordon previously worked with Bateman on Horrible Bosses.  McCarthy's part was originally written for a man, but Bateman asked to have it re-written specifically for McCarthy after seeing her in Bridesmaids.

The Good: The coupling of Bateman and McCarthy is inspired.  I would watch Bateman in almost anything, which is good because many of the movies he makes are crap.  He gets off a couple of good line readings here.  My favorite is a curt, perfectly timed, "the fuck you are," after carefully explaining to McCarthy that she can only order soup and she says she'll have ribs instead.  It's really the only chuckle I had.

The Bad:  It's just not funny.  The script is terrible (no surprise coming from The Hangover Part II's Craig Mazin), and most of the plot mechanics are stupid.  Tell me again why the Denver police can't just work with Miami police to capture McCarthy?  This is a pale imitation of movies like Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Midnight Run, hell, even Due Date.  If you liked the Jennifer Aniston-Gerard Butler "classic" The Bounty Hunter, well, you're in for a treat.  McCarthy is a good actress, and you have to hand it to her for fully committing to every role, but her character is thinly sketched and all over the place.  She's downright detestable in the beginning and then midway through, the filmmakers do a complete 180 and try to make the audience  sympathize with her.  This is problematic on several levels: (1) McCarthy is no John Candy; (2) the character arc isn't earned; and (3) it detracts from whatever comedy there was to begin with.  The movie is also overly long, going about 20 minutes more than it needs to.  Talented supporting players like Amanda Peet, John Cho, Robert Patrick, and Eric Stonestreet are completely wasted.

Should You See It?:  No.  Good thing Bateman still has new episodes of Arrested Development and McCarthy has The Heat coming out this year.  Audiences will need those to wash the taste of Identity Thief out of their mouths.

Rating: ** out of 5 stars.

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