x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Identity Thief: Thrashing around in the dark for laughs that never come

As if dropped into the middle of this terrible film by some omnipotent force, McCarthy and Bateman do their best to navigate its many nonsensical twists and turns, but in the end are as bemused as the audience is.

Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy in Identity Thief. AP Photo / Universal Pictures
Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy in Identity Thief. AP Photo / Universal Pictures

Identity Thief

Director: Seth Gordon

Starring: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy

*

The Bridesmaids breakout star Melissa McCarthy takes centre stage in Identity Thief, about a businessman named Sandy (Jason Bateman) who has a week to find and escort to Denver a Miami woman (McCarthy) living an extremely lavish lifestyle while running up huge debts using his stolen identity.

With both stars often being the best thing about their previous films, one would think these two comedic secret weapons would equal an instant classic.

Unfortunately, much like the 2010 road trip comedy Due Date with Robert Downey Jr and Zach Galifianakis, the story is almost non-existent: the script seems to rely on our protagonists getting hit over the head repeatedly and embarking on "hilarious" chases.

The overriding feelings watching the film are confusion as to when exactly things are going to start making sense, then slow dread when you realise they aren't.

The thing that keeps you running from the cinema is McCarthy and Bateman, who pull out all the stops to try to make this more than an extended, live-action Tom and Jerry cartoon.

Bateman is the king of deadpan, and so as Sandy endures his many trials the withering responses are occasionally very funny (such as receiving a torrent of abuse in Spanish and replying: "I bet that was hurtful, wasn't it?").

He ably plays straight man to McCarthy, herself charged with simply running around screaming and bumping into things. The odd witty aside reminds you exactly why these stars are so in demand, but they are essentially thrashing around in the dark for laughs that never come.

As if dropped into the middle of this terrible film by some omnipotent force, McCarthy and Bateman do their best to navigate Identity Thief's many nonsensical twists and turns, but in the end are as bemused as the audience is. This is not the comedy showcase McCarthy's talent deserves.

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