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‘Identity Thief’ review : Bateman and McCarthy save one-joke movie

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I can only imagine what it was like to go to a movie during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Long before television, home video and the internet you could go, uninformed, to see a movie and every now and then leave the theatre realizing you had just witnessed the birth of a star. I felt that way after seeing the movie “Bridesmaids.” In a supporting role Melissa McCarthy totally blew me away. Of course, it wasn’t just me she impressed since she earned an Oscar nomination for her performance – a very rare feat for a true comic performance. Though I don’t see another nomination coming here, McCarthy continues to shine in the new film “Identity Thief.”

Sandy Patterson (Bateman) is a mild mannered Colorado-based account executive who has had to suffer with a first name that makes strangers think he’s a woman (his father actually named him after baseball great Sandy Koufax). One morning the phone rings with terrible news. Sandy is informed that someone has tried to use one of his credit cards. The woman on the phone also tells him that if he can provide some information that she can stop the fraud from happening. Sandy shares his info, not knowing that the voice on the other end of the line belongs to Diana (McCarthy) a scam artist living in Florida. Soon Diana, as Sandy, is buying jet skis, a car and rounds of drinks for her friends. She also gets into a bar fight. When she doesn’t show up for court a warrant is issued for Sandy’s arrest. Understanding he’s in a tight situation from which the police can offer no help, Sandy decides to travel to the Sunshine State to confront his new self.

Packed with some great physical comedy by both stars, “Identity Thief” does a fine job of making a complete film out of a one-joke plot line. This is due to the chemestry between Bateman and McCarthy. Bateman, who was once “Teen Wolf” (or Teen Wolf 2 to be exact) has carved out a solid new career as the everyman that many in the audience can relate to. He has some great moments, especially at home with his wife (Amanda Peete) and daughters. Just as his life was getting good (new job, major raise) it begins to fall apart. His credit score is below 240, which isn’t a good thing to have when you work with other people’s money! While his idea to retrieve Diana may seem far fetched, it makes sense to a simple guy like Sandy.

McCarthy makes Diana believable as well. Even when she’s conspiring to get away from Sandy or complaining to anyone that will listen about her Fiber Myalga you feel a wee bit of sympathy for her situation. Of course the two leads have some great supporting characters to lend them a hand, including “Modern Family’s” Eric Stonestreet and “Terminator 2″ bad guy Robert Patrick. When they show up on screen, in seperate moments, they breathe like into the film just as it appears it will stall. Some of the bits are included because they seem funny though aren’t really needed and add an extra 20 minutes or so to the film that it really doesn’t need.

That being said, I recommend you see “Identity Thief,” even if it’s just so you can witness the continued rise of a shooting star.

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About Mike Smith

Michael Smith - quite possibly the world's biggest 'Jaws' fan - heads up Moviehole's international reviewing team.
Author: Mike Smith
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