Melissa McCarthy’s profile is on an upward curve after Bridesmaids, and the dilemma for this amply proportioned comedian is whether to hold out for material that capitalises on her bolshy personality and quickfire wit, or sign on now for starring roles that essentially make fun of the fat lady.
Here, she has unfortunately chosen the latter. She plays a scheming sociopath who runs a lucrative fake credit card scam by posing as an online security company. The latest schmuck dumb enough to give her his details is corporate bookkeeper Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman), whose life hits a downward spiral as a result, causing him to travel across country and bring his tormentor to justice. So, after grinding through a few topical story gears, ‘Identity Thief’ settles into a formula odd-couple road movie. It saddles Bateman with a thankless uptight straight-man role while heaping serial slapstick ignominies on his co-star, who gamely bounds through everything the script throws at her.
A single laugh just before the end counts as a poor return for any so-called comedy. But even worse is the sheer cynicism involved in assuming it’s OK to portray full-figured McCarthy’s character as a physically ridiculous, unloved and unlovable monster, providing she’s given a couple of moments that show her in a sympathetic light. Ugly and seriously unfunny.