Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Cinema File #126: "Identity Thief" Review

Seriously America, what the Hell?

As I currently write this review, Identity Thief is #1 at the box office. Now, I know that financial success does not denote quality and a lot of really bad movies make a lot of money, but sometimes I just have to sit back flabbergasted by the propensity of so many people to see the advertising for a movie like Identity Thief and think "Hm, that might be good." Come on people, have some respect for yourselves! They only keep making these movies because you keep going to them. Okay, benefit of the doubt, maybe you all just have movie blogs where you review the top films of the week like I do. No, that can't be it, because judging by how many people have seen this so far, the Internet would be broken by terrible Identity Thief reviews by now. I say this of course because I can't possibly fathom what anyone would actually find good about this movie.

The story follows Jason Bateman as a man named Sandy who has his identity stolen by a women played by Melissa McCarthy, and goes on a cross country trip to track her down and bring her to justice so he can keep his job and clear his name after her run ins with the law get him into trouble. Before, when I just wrote that synopsis, did you laugh uproariously about the fact that Bateman's character has a girl's name? No? Well that's strange, because the movie certainly expects you to, several times in fact. It is literally the most prominent running joke concerning his character, and it doesn't get any better from there. I laughed at exactly one line in this movie, an off hand reference to Ayn Rand of all things, and even then it was only the slightest of chuckles most likely exhorted out of desperation at the total lack of comedy up to that point.

The biggest problem with this movie unfortunately falls on the shoulders of McCarthy, who I genuinely liked in Bridesmaids and who provided perhaps the one moment I emphatically enjoyed in This Is 40. The movie seems tailor made for her particular improvisational style centered around that pushy, abrasive asshole role she's recently become typecast in, but she and the writers, to whatever extent they contributed to her dialogue, don't ever seem to grasp the fact that just being a pushy, abrasive asshole is not in and of itself automatically funny. You also need, you know, jokes and stuff. She isn't funny in the slightest, and more to the point she is incredibly unlikable, which considering what I would say is her very natural charm, is really saying something.

Then again, I don't think there was really any chance for me to ever enjoy her performance in the context of her role in the story. Identity theft is a very serious thing that ruins peoples' lives on a daily basis, and while I would never say there is any subject that is off limits for comedy, presenting us with a character that funds an exorbitantly extravagant lifestyle by unrepentantly stealing the money of random people, and then expecting us to find her antics amusing as she tries to continuously avoid accepting the consequences of her actions, is too high a hurdle for me to climb. I'm sorry, but this shit isn't fucking cute. I don't want to sympathize with this character, or see her redeemed to the point where even her victim develops an understanding for her. I want to personally round house kick this woman into her jail cell.

And I know how much we all love Arrested Development and were pissed that our favorite show was cancelled before its time, but honestly, how many shitty movies does Jason Bateman have to do before we can all admit that he's not very good, and was simply elevated by his material that one time we actually liked him? I would go on about how completely useless he is as an actor and how he never adds anything to any movie ever, but instead, I think I'm just going to list a series of recent movies he's starred in to illustrate my point: (Pick the one where you loved the Jason Bateman performance) - The Switch, The Change-Up, Horrible Bosses, Couples Retreat, The Ex, etc, etc, motherfucking etc!. Man, I'd even forgotten about The Ex. Remember that piece of shit?

Okay, sorry, gotta calm down...Identity Thief is a really bad movie, is my point. Its far too mediocre for the talents of its leading lady, and just about right in terms of the mediocrity of its leading man. Its the kind of movie where you brighten up a bit when someone like Robert Patrick or Eric Stonestreet show up, only to find that no one can escape the drag of unrelenting suck at the center of the production. If you really want to see Amanda Peet in a minor role as pointless as her career, or McCarthy have violent sweaty sex with the fat guy from Modern Family, or see her masturbate in a bathtub with a shower head, or projectile vomit, then I guess there's something in here for you. Please don't tell me you want to see those things.

For the sake of my sanity, skip this movie. Don't add to the profit margin that has no doubt already ensured more shitty Jason Bateman movies, and more movies designed to compel Melissa McCarthy to waste her potential on garbage. Be smarter with your movie going money. Leave it alone.

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