Identity Thief (R)

Comedy 111 February 8, 2013
By Alan Scherstuhl
Here's a breakthrough, of a sort: The funniest scenes in Identity Thief are of Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman beating the hell out of each other. McCarthy-- playing a multi-named serial liar and credit-card fraud artist we'll call Diana-- clocks Jason Bateman with a vicious neck punch. Bateman-- as yet another sane fellow whose life is infested with plot-driving crazies--clocks, tackles, and even brains her with the stolen bric-a-brac that clutters Diana's home. I'm not going to argue that this man hitting this woman for laughs is a progressive triumph. But it is at least a victory for whatever is the opposite of sexism. McCarthy gets bashed about like a Stooge, and she bashes back with riotous abandon. Sadly, the rest of the movie is a shambles. So, let it be said, this one time only: Here is a comedy that really could use more inter-gender violence. (I’ll leave it to you to parse the sexual politics of McCarthy's insult after Bateman beans her with a knickknack: "You throw like a fuckin' girl!") The rest of the film, they’re solo acts, each doing what audiences expect: She yells and exhibits an unsocialized horniness; he regards her with dismay and disgust. Yes, disgust. There's no way around it: The producers of Identity Thief seem to find McCarthy's real-world body loathsome. Her big comic sex scene is ruined by director Seth Gordon's refusal to shoot her below the chin, and her Diana is later freighted with a sad-clown back story and given a princess makeover—penance, perhaps, for having roughhoused like the boys in the first reel.
Seth Gordon Melissa McCarthy, Jason Bateman, John Cho, Jon Favreau, Amanda Peet, Maggie Elizabeth Jones, Robert Patrick, Genesis Rodriguez, Eric Stonestreet, Jonathan Banks Craig Mazin, Jerry Eeten Scott Stuber, Jason Bateman, Pamela Abdy Universal Pictures

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