Bateman, McCarthy Let Down by Script in Identity Thief
- Friday, February 08, 2013
Release Date: February 8, 2013
Rating: R for sexual content and language
Run Time: 111 min.
Director: Seth Gordon
Cast: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Robert Patrick, Amanda Peet, Morris Chestnut, Genesis Rodriguez, Jon Cho, Eric Stonestreet
Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) is an accountant pulling down $50,000 a year to support his wife (Amanda Peet, Gulliver's Travels) and growing family. When a disenchanted co-worker (John Cho, Star Trek) lures him to a start-up by offering him an annual salary of $250,000, Sandy jumps, delighted at what the extra income will mean for his family’s financial security.
Meanwhile, Diana (Melissa McCarthy) has her own ideas about Sandy’s finances. Running a scam, she steals his identity and starts spending wildly. Word gets back to Sandy that he’s been victimized, but with Diana in Florida and Sandy in Colorado, the police officer in charge of the investigation in Colorado says it’ll be months before the perpetrator can be brought to justice.
That won’t do for Sandy, whose reputation has been besmirched to the point where he’s in danger of losing his higher-paying new job. His solution? Against the advice of everyone, Sandy heads to Florida determined to bring Diana back to Colorado, where she can be promptly arrested, thereby restoring Sandy’s standing with his employer.
Bateman has put together a career of straight-man comedy roles that have made him one of the most reliable comic actors in the business. He may be best known as Michael Bluth, the calm center of the eccentric family that populates Ron Howard’s TV show Arrested Development, which is now widely considered a modern classic, thanks to the show’s second life on home video.
But if TV is what helped launch Bateman (as a child, he was also one of the stars of the sitcom Silver Spoons), cinema has been a mainstay for him as an adult. He turned in strong supporting performances in Juno and State of Play, but his efforts to establish himself as a leading man in such films as Extract and The Switch never quite clicked with audiences. Could it be that Bateman’s on-screen persona is better suited for small-dose comic relief of supporting characters rather than the full load required of a main character? Identity Thief does no favors for Bateman or his prospects as a leading man.
As for co-star McCarthy, whose breakout performance came in Bridesmaids, Identity Thief uses her to aim for lowbrow laughs but can’t even manage that. After chugging along with minimal humor, the film completely runs out of laughing gas before turning into a dreadfully misguided attempt at Diana's personal reformation and redemption. While such transformation is laudable in most stories, here it feels false.
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