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Review: ‘Identity Thief’

A Comdienne Shines Through Poor Filmmaking

Melissa McCarthy is spectacular amid a dull movie attempt by director, Seth Gordon. "Identity Thief" (opening February 8 throughout San Diego) is a mixed bag of a film.

"Identity Thief" co-star and saving grace, Melissa McCarthy, said in an interview with Jon Stewart, if the film flops, "blame Bateman."

Photo caption:

Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy posing as a married couple in "Identity Thief"

While some of the blame does rest on Bateman's shoulders, as he tends to align himself with low quality directors and is not a strong leading actor, I place the most blame on "Thief" director, Seth Gordon. Gordon is known for "Four Christmases," (2008) and "Horrible Bosses" (2011). He also has a hand in TV direction. He has directed episodes of some of my favorite shows ("Parks and Rec," "Community"), which stand out as duds in their respective series.

"Horrible Bosses" stars, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, and Jason Bateman confront Jamie Foxx's "Mother(expletive) Jones" in the 2011 film.

These episodes, along with "Thief," are plot messes. The stories have the very vague lines of continuity, but happen to be full of hilarious actors (Charlie Day and McCarthy are the biggest standouts). The actors' talents saves these products.

Similar to "Bosses," "The Change-Up" (2011), "Extract" (2009) and other Bateman films, "Thief" starts with a brief view of his character's life. Now he is Sandy Bigelow Patterson, an accounts professional, but really he is the same boring office drone, trying to do sensible work in senseless situation. Meanwhile, McCarthy, as professional identity thief, Diana, is destroying his credit with frivolous purchases across the country. Sandy decides to bring Diana to justice himself by dragging her from Florida to Colorado to confess her crimes (by car of course, to ensure optimum bonding time for the contrasted characters).

Photo caption:

Bateman as Sandy Patterson when he initially catches McCarthy's Diana, seasoned identity thief

A shamble of story is attempted from this premise. Bigelow and a few of his coworkers form their own company instantaneously and with no explanation. The story jarringly jumps to unnecessary situations. Subsidiary characters are lodged into random scenes. And all of this mess gets in the way as McCarthy is in her own world of talent -- brightening up the dullest situations and cranking out touching tears. It takes some time before she can really hit her stride and release an endless font of hilarity for the rest of the film. But she gets there.

Boisterous Laughs and Furrowed Brows Abound...

I do not know how to feel about this movie. It is simultaneously terrible (the bad kind of terrible, not the good kind I mentioned in my last review) and hilarious. McCarthy is a comedic genius. I would pay good money to watch her sleep because I am sure it would be hilarious in some way. If she is talented enough to single-handedly save an extra long, extra useless attempt at a movie (which she is), I am confident she could sell out a theater in her sleep. Unfortunately for her, in "Thief," she has to be brilliant in the restraints of a bad movie. McCarthy proves that no restraints can contain her awesomeness. The 111-minute film is a Gordon flop without her in the shot.

Photo caption:

Melissa McCarthy and director, Seth Gordon share a laugh on the set of "Identity Thief."

"Identity Thief" is rated R for sexual content and language.

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