Review: Identity Thief


Identity ThiefActress-comedian Melissa McCarthy is a hot property in Hollywood since her breakout performance in the 2011 movie Bridesmaids. She's got an ongoing co-starring role on the TV series Mike & Molly and a part in This is 40 added to her list of credits, along with an upcoming police comedy with Sandra Bullock (The Heat), and a rumored appearance in The Hangover Part III.

McCarthy's over-the-top vulgar antics are a huge box-office draw right now, and the producers of Identity Thief are banking on that, showing previews filled with her most outrageous moments in the film. The film is  scripted by Craig Mazin, whose experience writing outrageous humor includes The Hangover Part II and a couple of the Scary Movie outings, and directed by Seth Gordon, who did similar work in Horrible Bosses. (Remember when he was The King of Kong filmmaker?)

The road-trip comedy co-stars Jason Bateman as the victim of her character Diana's criminal madness, out to deliver her to justice and reclaim his life. Though it delivers plenty of insanity, the laughs grow thinner as outrageous comedy gives way to touchy-feely tugs on the heartstrings, concluding with an ending straight out of an ABC Afterschool Special.  

Identity Thief is a generally enjoyable film, and would have been more so, if I could have looked beyond a couple of weaknesses. The first was a painfully awkward cameo scene with Jon Favreau, which seems like it was filmed only to prove that Favreau needs to stay behind the camera. The second was a clunky story that brings characters in, makes them important and then fails to resolve their story arcs. Even when I take my critic hat off, these two problems remain.

Inexplicably, Identity Thief earned an R rating, apparently entirely on the basis of "adult situations." The movie contained mild gun violence, almost zero nudity (a single shot of male buttocks) and even very little rough language. It felt entirely PG-13 and with only small alterations, could easily air on network television.