Of the many qualities I admire about Melissa McCarthy as a comedian and as a dramatic actor, the best is how fully she gives herself to every character she plays.
She has the courage and will to go all out, whether it’s putting the moves on an air marshal in “Bridesmaids,” downing a bottle of salad dressing on “Saturday Night Live” or boldly scamming her way through life in “Identity Thief.”
After its first few scenes, “Identity Thief” becomes a predictable, mildly amusing road-trip comedy.
As her first starring role in a feature comedy, McCarthy plays Diana, a resourceful, big-haired Florida drifter who leads the good life while running up a huge tab under a false identity.
She hits a jackpot with the assets of one Sandy Bigelow Patterson, a sober-minded Colorado family man played by Jason Bateman.
Diana ruins Sandy’s life with her scheme, affecting his credit, career and his personal reputation. Her schemes could not come at a worst time for Sandy, because he and his wife (Amanda Peet) are soon expecting their third child.
The police are portrayed as powerless, so Sandy decides to take matters into his own hands to restore his life by tracing the destruction to her door. Sandy heads south to drag Diana to justice.
The pair’s adventures include eluding gangsters played by Genesis Rodriguez and rapper T.I.
T.I.’s role in the film must have been solely to appear in trailers because his dialogue and character, in general, were both irrelevant to the overall plot.
To add to the chaos, a bounty hunter played by Robert Patrick is also trailing the duo. Multiple fights, car crashes and even a snake attack, plague the travelers on their journey from Florida to Colorado.
The humor in the film definitely meets the standard R-rating; profanity and sexual references are thrown around throughout the film.
It’s comedic how Bateman’s character can’t seem to catch a break, especially having a name like Sandy, which he is reminded of frequently.
McCarthy, to her credit, throws herself into more than her fair share of physical gags. Several jokes are made at the expense of her character’s weight and appearance.
I’ll admit that she’s easily the best part about this movie, even if she does often resort to insensitive clichés. She saves the film from being another mediocre comedy.
At best, “Identity Thief” is slightly above a mediocre comedy; at worst it’s an instruction manual for future identity thieves.
I give the film three stars, because although the plot was interesting and exciting, miscasting, like T.I., left many scenes without comic relief.
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