Even if it's just a throwaway yuk-fest, Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman make Identity Thief a road trip worth taking...
Universal / 121 Minutes / 2013 / Unrated / Street Date: June 4, 2013
Melissa McCarthy has been a gifted and maniacally funny comic performer for more than a decade now, so even as a superfan, this writer does not begrudge her decision to make a paycheck movie, which is clearly what Identity Thief is. Utilizing as much of her Bridesmaids mojo as possible, this crass, paint-by-numbers comedy allows our beloved Melissa ample opportunities to turn her on-screen alter ego to eleven, offering up winking, silly, brash pratfalls that have become her iconic specialty.
And it’s always great to see her – even if Identity Thief stumbles as a film, it’s difficult to sit through the thing and not succumb to a chuckle or two. The charisma that McCarthy and Jason Bateman strike up as our film kicks into its road-trip center section is enthralling: their ferocious banter is the only thing that keeps the movie’s trite, overlong screenplay from getting the best of them.
Identity Thief’s trailer tells it all: Jason Bateman is a mild-mannered family man and Melissa McCarthy is the batshit crazy hedonist who steals his credit card info and goes on a shopping spree. For reasons not fully made clear, the police can’t nab Melissa on their own, though – Bateman has to track her down and bring her back to his hometown of Denver himself. There are bounty hunters, mean bosses, sexually ambiguous cowboys, an ending with a nice, pretty bow on it – typical bawdy comedy fare all the way.
Yet while Identity Thief is forgivably entertaining, its tacit mediocrity really zaps a lot of the fun out of it. The idea that we live in an age where Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman are kingpins in big-Hollywood movies that make hundreds of millions of dollars is a dream come true, of course, but one would think that between Bateman’s trademark deadpan and McCarthy’s proven track record of torpedoing scenes with her brand of raucous, often disorientingly loopy humor, anything they’d touch together would turn to gold. That isn’t the case here, but it’s fair to call Identity Thief a perfectly enjoyable waste of time anyway.