Lina Lamont

"What do you think I am, dumb or something?"

Identity Thief

This review first appeared in the Sunday Star-Times, 7th April 2013

As far as Odd Couple comedies go, there have been some mis-steps recently, notably the independently good Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand committing cringeworthy embarassment together in The Guilt Trip.

Well, someone got canny when they pitched Jason “eternally watchable” Bateman and Melissa “The best thing in Bridesmaids” McCarthy as an unlikely pair whose lives collide when she steals his identity, and he goes after her to claim it back. While Bateman tends to play versions of his real self, his brand of acting works because he is so accessible. Comparatively, McCarthy’s brilliance is in creating over-the-top characters for whom we can still care a great deal.

This is not the rollicking, laugh-out-loud comedy, but it does have a surprising amount of heart, its leads working easily with a chemistry so sadly missing from Rogen and Streisand’s roadtrip. Both “Sandy Pattersons” are engaging and sympathetic, which makes bearable some of the attempts at edgy humour (Diana is the consummate liar whose porkies about the hapless Sandy just roll off her tongue) and gets you through the incessant car chases – for what would a road trip be without the obligatory ‘criminals on your tail’ sub-plot?

If anything, the leads’ acting is a bit too good, making some genuinely heartfelt moments jar amongst the broad physical comedy. Correspondingly, the villains come across as too evil to fit with the slapstick quest genre.

Nonetheless, if you’re prepared to be entertained rather than cracked up, the inherent good nature of this film is to be applauded.

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