Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy
When an office worker gets his identity stolen and his job is in jeopardy, he goes to track the culprit down and bring her to justice.
Director Seth Gordon made a transition from documentaries like 2007s The King of Kong to scripted comedy with 2011s Horrible Bosses, doing good work with a solid cast and even managing to drag a great performance from Jennifer Aniston.
His feature film follow-up is Identity Thief, the very definition of a high concept comedy and a film which was critically savaged on its release in the States last month. But I, for one, found it highly entertaining.
Sure the film falls into some very familiar territory, soon becoming a fairly one-note road movie and is often prone to wandering off the narrative path but it does have one great strength - it’s actually funny. In a world where most comedies are either extraordinarily safe or shot in a mock doc style that neuters the humour, I laughed my ass off at Identity Thief.
Mostly that’s down to Bateman who has been riding the career resurgence of Arrested Development for almost 10 years. Here, he plays a buttoned down character you may have seen before - the sensible husband with a nice family and a hard job with few rewards. But that composure doesn’t last long and there are few comedy actors better at mean-spirited banter than Bateman.
The film does have a dark edge, with few characters that are really likeable - something which carried through into random bursts of violence which aren’t really that much fun. Gordon does head into action territory from time to time and a couple of bone-and-bonnet crunching car scenes are fairly exhilarating.
Then there’s Melissa McCarthy, who seems intent on playing the same character until she expires. At least in this instance there’s some attempt to explain her personality and even a token amount of drama which she handles fairly well.
Identity Thief may be tonally all over the place but a great central performance by Bateman and a crazy premise were enough to wring the requisite amount of laughs out of me.