June 12, 2013
Critic Roger Ebert once rationalized the time lost viewing and reviewing bad movies: at least he could warn fellow fans where not to waste valuable hours of their lives.
In Identity Thief, Sandy Bigalow Patterson (Jason Bateman) pursues "Sandy Bigalow Patterson" (Melissa McCarthy) who is also being chased by gangsters. (Really?) Basically it is a car-chasing road-trip buddy-movie.
There are no spoilers to spill because Director Seth Gordon and writers Jerry Eeten and Craig Mazin have conspicuously plagiarized from these genres.
Some years ago, a beauty contest for the ugliest woman was shown on TV. The finalists spent most of their routine on the floor in various contortions of splayed legs. The winner was an obese lady whose face was not distinctively or memorably unattractive, but she did manage the indelibly ugliest positions. Did McCarthy see the same show or did she choreograph her own plump performance?
But is fat funny? Or is McCarthy funny? Despite her pretty face, she can be unmercifully unattractive, unabashedly immodest and embarrassingly self-deprecating while giving us permission to laugh at her bulk. We can admire her audacity, but cringe at the same time. Did we really need to see that?
Or maybe Melissa McCarthy is an acquired taste.
True, a few rare lines, subplots and pratfalls were fresh, funny and unexpected, but most were tired, anticipated and recycled. McCarthy keeps parodying herself - from Bridesmaids to This is 40 to my favorite, the soon to be released The Heat.
The casting was the movie's evasive ace. Justin Bateman and Amanda Peet can always flawlessly play parents... zzzzzz. Robert Patrick is charismatic as usual, playing the baddie (unless you consider thief Sandy Patterson).
The other two outlaws (again, unless you consider the criminal act of stealing) are standouts: T.I. and Genesis Rodriguez. These three crooks pack pistols - hence they are the villains.
Here Morris Chestnut plays a bland Denver detective, but in Nurse Jackie, he hemorrhages magnetism. The stout Eric Stonestreet of Modern Family converts his usual gay shtick to a McCarthyesque macho-horny-porny cowboy. And last but least is John Cho (Star Trek).
In Identity Thief, these overqualified actors were wasted and robbed. As was the audience.
(Editor's note: If you have acquired a taste for Melissa McCarthy's scatological antics, this Blu-ray includes an extra nine minute long Unrated Edition.)
The talking heads of cast and crew brazenly boast about each other's' skills, smarts, and creativity. Their shallow bravado was wantonly hollow. And isn't it our prerogative to judge a movie, and theirs to prove in the doing?
So skip the Bonus Features and spend your valuable time having fun or being useful.
Now, if they wanted to be relevant or helpful, a segment on avoiding and/or dealing with identity theft would have provided a pertinent excuse for watching.
Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Seth Gordon
Cast: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Jon Favreau, Amanda Peet, Tip 'T.I.' Harris, Genesis Rodriguez, Morris Chestnut, John Cho, Robert Patrick, Eric Stonestreet, Jonathan Banks
Length: Theatrical - 112 minutes
Unrated - 121 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
DVS2 2.0 and Dolby Digital 2.0
French & Spanish:
DTS Digital Surround 5.1
English SDH, French and Spanish