Directed by Seth Gordon with screenplay by Craig Mazin and story by Mazin and Jerry Eeten, “Identity Thief” is fun and pleasant enough with some laughs, but provided with a superior script, co-stars Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman could have brought so much more to the screen.
“Identity Thief” starts with an interesting premise…one that many of us can appreciate. What happens when your identity is stolen and before you have time to realize this, your credit cards are maxed out, your bank accounts drained, you’re wanted by the police and your good reputation is no more? In this case, the victim, Bateman, decides to go to Miami in pursuit of the thief, McCarthy, and bring her back to his Denver hometown to clear his name. At first the action is pretty funny. Jason Bateman is one of the best straight man in the business (along with Paul Rudd). Watching his ire build is a master class in “straight-man acting.” And Melissa McCarthy may be the best physical comedienne/actress since Lucille Ball. Together they have terrific chemistry. But eventually the ying and yang of their relationship grows old. Thirty minutes of editing, especially those with Eric Stonestreet’s Big Chuck character and the two skip tracers, would have done much to tighten up the script.
What’s interesting about Bateman and McCarthy is that both are first-class actors. As he proved in “Juno” and now in “Identity Thief’s” low-key scenes, Bateman is more than capable of performing excellent serious work. McCarthy has some dramatic scenes in “Identity Thief” that tug at your heart. She’s really a well-rounded (no pun intended) actress. After her upcoming “The Heat” with Sandra Bullock, let’s hope she gets a chance to do something with less physicality or, unfortunately, she may come to be viewed as a one trick pony when she is so much more.
Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman are really terrific comic actors who need better material to showcase their talents. Let’s hope we have the opportunity to see them in something better soon.