REVIEW: Identity Thief

19 03 2013

I walked into “Identity Thief” after having a pretty dismal week.  I knew I wanted to blow off some steam in the form of laughter, and I was willing to sit through just about anything to get that satisfaction.

Thankfully, Melissa McCarthy delivered.  She didn’t do it big time, but she brought enough fun and humor with her improvisational comedy that it gave me the bare minimum of the need I was looking for the movie to fill.  Now, I was hoping it would do a little bit more … but as Osgood would say in “Some Like It Hot,” well, nobody’s perfect.

The movie is enjoyable and fun when McCarthy gets to have free play and improvisation with Jason Bateman, an average joe who gets his identity stolen by her habitual plastic kleptomaniac.  Sadly, his Sandy Patterson and her “Diana” do not get nearly enough of this unstructured time.

They are often reduced to gimmicks and clichés that are beneath McCarthy’s talents for sure.  I don’t mean to suggest Bateman isn’t a capable comedian or actor; indeed, I think he plays an easily identifiable everyman that resonates with a lot of people.  He has excelled in supporting roles in Jason Reitman’s films “Juno” and “Up in the Air,” yet his starring vehicles all seem to totally miss the mark.

From “Couples Retreat” to “Horrible Bosses” to “The Change-Up,” Bateman has yet to prove himself as a capable comedic leading man.  I think this might have something to do with his persona’s defining characteristics of rigidity, though I will admit I have never watched “Arrested Development” – and that might change my opinions on Bateman.

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