All County, All the Time Since 2010 MAKE THIS YOUR PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY HOME...PAGE!  Friday, December 4th, 2020

Identity Thief a quirky fun buddy movie

Paul Peterson

Jason Bateman has been in the entertainment business for a long time, starting back when he was very young and playing on Little House on the Prairie and Silver Spoons. He hit the peak with the Valerie Harper show, and then hit a low point with Teen Wolf 2 By his own admission, that was a terrible mistake. He floundered and hit a low point professionally until a former agent called him up and suggested he audition for a quirky little show that Fox was filming called Arrested Development. His career took off and now it’s in syndication and he’s a star maker. His career in the last few years has been focused on movies and he can now get movies made.

So the story goes, he had this script called Identity Thief , which was a buddy movie.
Guy gets his identity stolen, his life is temporarily turned upside down, then he confronts the guy who did the deed and now we have a road trip buddy movie as they come back to the scene of the crime.
Except something happened along the way.
Bateman saw Bridesmaids and called his business partner and told him to sign Melissa McCarthy to co -star as the con woman, and rewrite the script to make it work for her. He suggested they sign her right away because she was about to blow up big time.
He was right.
Melissa McCarthy is very very funny. She has this kind of manic energy. She stole Bridesmaids. It was belly busting laugh out loud funny. And she followed that with a supporting stint in This  is 40, and her outtake at the end of the movie is the funniest thing I’ve seen in a very long time.
There are moments like that in Identity Thief.
She plays Diana, a wild looking bunko artist who steals Sandy Patterson’s identity. One of the ongoing jokes in the film is about Bateman having a woman’s name. The set up is flawed and some of the plot points are loopy.
In addition to the real Sandy Patterson (Bateman) trying to track down Diana/Sandy/any name will do, there are also some kind of Road Rage Bounty Hunter and this quirky couple who just happen to be professional killers.
It’s unnecessary.
The movie is all about Melissa.
She has a number of running bits where she works free meals or free drinks or free wallets out of various unsuspecting targets by explaining that Bateman is her husband who had a tragic accident that resulted in his ummmm, man parts being mangled and  with that she’s off to the races. Each new explanation brings more torture to south of the border and the result of one episode ends in an incredibly inappropriate, but hilarious, episode with Big Chuck back at the motel.
McCarthy is a great actress and the film has a lot of heart.
We see her vulnerable side and as they go cross country she starts to open up to Bateman. It could be sappy but it works.
She sells us on her pain and that vulnerability reels us in.
There’s a really sweet scene where she’s over loading herself with perfume in a way too exclusive cosmetics store, and she’s being laughed at by the pretentious staff. She knows they’re laughing at her and she steps towards them and you’re anticipating a funny confrontation where they get their comeuppance. Instead she asks for their help. It was really charming and sweet.
She gets her makeover. The rest of the film is irrelevant.
It’s a buddy travel pic.
Cars get blown up.
People get arrested.
Police car windows get smashed.
Throughout it all Bateman stays relatively sweet and hapless and McCarthy looks after her little fella. It all works.
Once again it’s about 15 minutes too long but it’s funny, charming and not entirely predictable.
Not entirely but leopards don’t change their spots and nice guys feel good comedies don’t usually have deep dark endings. You get what you pay for, and what you want.
For me, the question was is Melissa McCarthy ready to carry a picture and after seeing Identity Thief, the answer, to quote Will Smith,  is a resounding “Oh hell ya”
As always, other opinions are welcome, but wrong. That’s it for this week. The cheque’s in the mail and I’m outta here. Paul

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElsePaul Peterson

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