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Identity Thief - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Identity Thief
Directing: B
Acting: B+
Writing: C+
Cinematography: B
Editing: B

There's a lot about Identity Thief that's really just like a million other comedies -- not least of which is that a good number of the funniest parts are captured in the trailer, making it look better than it is. You watch this movie's trailer and think, That won't be a masterpiece, but it looks funny. And, okay, it is funny. Kind of.

Here's the premise. A guy named Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) is working a middle class financial job in Denver, leaning a simple and pleasant life, and suddenly he discovers a woman in Florida (Melissa McCarthy) has stolen his identity. A woman manages it because, you see, Sandy is a girl's name. The script, just to warn you, kind of overdoes its tired jokes about that. Anyway, when Sandy discovers the only way to get his situation cleared up quickly is to get the woman back to Denver for local law enforcement, he decides to go Florida to convince the woman to come back to Denver with him.

That's realistic, right? Okay, so the conceit is that Sandy just got a new job and the arrest record now on his name is threatening the job, so he figures he can convince the woman to come back to Denver with him to clear things up, with the empty promise of not pressing charges. His idea is actually to set her up so she'll get arrested.

So Sandy sets off, and tropes abound. Diana -- the identity thief -- is mixed up with criminals who inevitably get on their trail with guns. Sandy and Diana progressively become friendly, trust is broken and regained, blah blah blah. Of course Diana is actually a good person! In this movie, and in every movie like it, only the criminals with guns are bad people. Well, and Sandy's douchebag boss (Jon Favreau).

The thing is, Bateman and McCarthy have real chemistry as a comedic team. As you might expect, Bateman has the straight part, always the foil to McCarthy's antics. And as mediocre as this script is, McCarthy in particular really bits into it -- as she does any part she's in. If there is any reason at all to see Identify Thief, it's her. Melissa McCarthy doesn't exactly have wide comedic range, but she has a particular brand of comedic talent that nearly always works. She knows how to make you laugh.

Would that the rest of the movie did. On the upside, this is that rare comedy that goes for sincerity in between the laughs, and actually achieves it -- there's no disingenuous wholesomeness, nothing schmaltzy. In the end, it's surprisingly sweet. It's just not quite as funny, or nearly as good, as it could have been.

Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman are off and running with not much in IDENTITY THIEF.

Overall: B-
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