Melissa McCarthy in Identity Thief.
Identity Thief (D: Seth Gordon, 111 min) For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NN
Bridesmaids' Melissa McCarthy gets to be the centre of attention in Identity Thief. Unfortunately, the recession-era road-trip comedy about an impish fraudster and her docile victim doesn't get enough mileage out of its Oscar-nominated star.
In her first leading role, McCarthy gives a full-bodied performance as obnoxious con artist Diana. She swipes the name of straight-man financier Sandy (Jason Bateman) and rings up a hurricane of debt.
For reasons that are both convoluted and irrational, Sandy has to fly from his home in Denver to Diana's stomping grounds in Florida, nab the culprit himself and bring her back to clear his name. To complicate things further, the travelling pair are chased by a court-ordered bounty hunter (Robert Patrick) operating well out of his jurisdiction and a couple of Mob-hired assassins (sexy Genesis Rodriguez and bland rapper T.I.) who take a faulty credit card scam extremely personally.
That's a whole lot of preposterous plot weighing the comedy down, like a debt/asset ratio that tips into the red. McCarthy shoulders the burden by singing, dancing, screeching and punching her way through all the far-fetched detours and desperate high-jinks the screenplay puts in her path.
But she can only carry the movie so far. If Identity Thief suffers from comedic recession, McCarthy is too small a stimulus package.