‘Identity Thief’ fails to deliver when it counts

  • By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
  • Wednesday, February 6, 2013 7:48pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

The collision of deft ad libbers such as Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy ought to be guarantee of comic fireworks, right?

Bateman’s deadpan riffing, re-discovered in “Arrested Development,” is a prized commodity even in bad movies, and McCarthy wisecracked her way to an Oscar nomination for “Bridesmaids.”

Well, it’s a fizzle. “Identity Thief” shoehorns these two into a labored premise that leans on the road trip for its format, and “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” for its outline.

Bateman plays a Denver accounts manager whose name — Sandy Bigelow Patterson — is stolen by a Florida scam artist, played by McCarthy. She runs up thousands in bills, and through a variety of plot contrivances, he goes to Florida to bring her to Colorado so she can be arrested.

Well before he arrives in Florida, then, this is one of those “Why didn’t he just…?” and “Why don’t they just…?” movies, in which we must endure illogical behavior in order get the story into place.

But whatever, you say, we want to laugh, so who cares how we get there?

All right, fine. In that case, the laughs need to be more plentiful, because the verbal banter never reaches the heights of McCarthy’s loopy rants in “Bridesmaids,” and the physical stuff includes her getting hit by a car and flying through the air.

There are raunchy moments as well, most of which are confined to a prospective threesome in a roadside motel. Like much about “Identity Thief,” this scene feels left over from a different, wilder screenplay.

The movie itself, directed by “Horrible Bosses” helmer Seth Gordon, is relentlessly soft-bellied, from her very first scene, there are dutiful attempts to let us know that McCarthy’s character is really sad, lonely and desperate, and that’s why she’s engaging in her criminal behavior.

This touchy-feely psychological approach might work with making her “sympathetic” to audiences, but it’s all wrong for comedy.

Best of luck to Bateman and McCarthy in their next projects, because they are comedy all-stars, but this movie’s concept needs a scalpel edge, and it’s completely made of cookie dough.

“Identity Thief” HH

Melissa McCarthy (“Bridesmaids”) scams the identity of mild-mannered Jason Bateman in this labored fling at a road movie. Those are two funny people, but the film is totally soft when it actually needs a scalpel edge.

Rated: R for language, subject matter.

Showing: Alderwood 7, Cinebarre, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marsyville, Stanwood, Pacific Place, Sundance, Thornton Place, Woodinville, Cascade.

More in Life

Using a rod to assist in running wiring through an attic space, Don Thomas, of R&D Handyman Service, works on installing a ceiling fan at a home in SE Everett on Monday, July 24, 2017 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
                                Don Thomas of R&D Handyman Service installs a ceiling fan at a home in southeast Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
When fall chores loom, just hand them to the handyman

Here are three local businesses that can help you prepare your home for the rainy season.

And this year’s winners of Everett’s Monte Cristo Awards are…

The awards recognize local homeowners and businesses that take special care of their properties.

‘Happy Death Day’ applies ‘Groundhog Day’ premise on horror genre

Smart writing and Jessica Rothe’s performance make this worth seeing.

Adventurer 1st to finish Race to Alaska on stand-up paddleboard

Karl Kruger will speak about his trip at the Everett Mountaineers Banquet on Nov. 4 in Lynnwood.

Therapy helped ease debilitating pain after injury

Columnist Jennifer Bardsley shares her experiences with complex regional pain syndrome.

How to prune a hydrangea: An exception to the pruning rule

It helps to think of a growing blackberry vine when you’re about to cut back this blooming shrub.

Visiting Germany’s Lutherland, birthplace of Reformation

The sights include the church where the first Protestant service took place in 1521.

Can you top ‘Hamilton’? Author Ron Chernow is about to find out

The notable writer’s latest book, published Oct. 10, is a lengthy biography on Ulysses S. Grant.

Most Read