Identity Thief | Movie review
Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy can’t salvage a comedic car wreck.
He was a decent sitcom actor until Arrested Development unearthed his inner droll comedian; she was a bit player who, thanks to a bravura turn in Bridesmaids, was immediately added to Hollywood’s comic A-list. Put these two dynamos together and it would be virtually impossible to make a movie that wasn’t brimming with omigod moments of hilarity, right? Right?
From the famous-last-words department comes this comedic car wreck, which conveniently wastes not one but two major talents. It starts promisingly: No sooner has Melissa McCarthy’s scam artist bilked Jason Bateman’s financial-industry everyguy out of his Social Security number than she’s trashing a Florida nightclub and charging the damage to his credit card. Watch McCarthy’s face as she injects wide-eyed, gosh-all glee into her character’s mania; it’s like seeing an animated Disney critter on a crack high. Then listen to the deadpan way Bateman addresses his kids at a birthday dinner (“Thank you all for coming”). Enjoy those brief guffaws, folks, since once his disgraced hero decides to drag this credit-fraud criminal from the Sunshine State to Colorado—bring on the gratuitous bounty hunter and drug-lord henchmen!—the silence that greets the desperate lunges at humor becomes deafening.
With Horrible Bosses, former documentarian Seth Gordon established that cringe comedy wasn’t his forte; this painful endeavor confirms he should stick to nonfiction. The film somehow fails as a star vehicle, a recession-era satire, a WTF white-collar-grunt revenge tale, a Midnight Run–style buddy flick, a gross-out laughfest and a bathetic tale of broken souls. No amount of stolen guises can fix it.