Written by / 2/09/2013 / 1 Comment / , , , , , , ,

IDENTITY THIEF

year: 2013 cast: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Jon Favreau rating: **1/2
Melissa McCarthy is really hot. Disagree? Well she has this movie in theaters about to nab number one at the box office, and another under way with a trailer shown right before IDENTITY THIEF: where everyman husband/father Sandy Pettersen, played by Jason Bateman, pays the price of having a first name often attributed to females. This is how con artist McCarthy’s resilient Diana steals his identity, using his credit cards to buy everything from a jet ski to a brand new car.

Sandy… that is, the real Sandy… works as an accountant while the fake Sandy has turned his life upside-down.

We’ll skip past his really bad day (Bateman doing a stock glib victim-of-circumstance role) and cut to the plot at hand: he’s given a week to go from Colorado to Florida to find his thief, and then bring her back to the police. Of course anyone familiar with TRAINS, PLANES AND AUTOMOBILES, DUE DATE and the recent GUILT TRIP knows this won’t be as simple as planned.

Actually, finding this woman is easy enough, but trying to subdue her is the difficult part. She has a penchant for painful throat jabs and can survive more brutal accidents than a crash test dummy and Wile E. Coyote combined. 

Eventually, since they can't take a plane, Sandy and Diana have to drive cross-country and the inevitable road movie begins. A few semi funny moments occur, including an action-packed car chase, but a lot of McCarthy’s humor is too gross and over-the-top to seem like she’s earned laughs on her own accord. Perhaps HORRIBLE BOSSES director Seth Gordon is competing for the Judd Apatow/Seth McFarland super-R rated spotlight. But in this particular case, the gross out factor only serves as a crutch or distraction.

It's when Sandy has to become more like Diana, both cutting corners to escape vicious thugs and the law, that the characters not only grow closer, they become more real. And you gotta give credit to the lead actors for trudging through some deliberately sappy moments centering on Diana’s back story and shortcomings: shy's made much too sympathetic throughout. 

The important thing is both Bateman and McCarthy make a decent team, and are often more likable  than the somewhat standard script allows.
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