Cruel comedy flop

Identity Thief Universal Rating: 14A 112 minutes

Identity theft is a serious problem.

And while Identity Thief as a comedy about the subject isn’t out of line, the movie is unbelievable and badly scripted. Jason Bateman plays a nice family man of above average intelligence who, as the movie opens, hands out his full name, date of birth and social security number to a complete stranger over the phone.

The stranger, of course, is the thief, played by Melissa McCarthy. She proceeds to ruin his life in Denver and the police can’t seem to do anything about it since she is in Florida. So Bateman hatches the hair-brained scheme of going to Florida and bringing her back. McCarthy is mean, nasty and unrepentant. She also has a unfortunate habit of punching people in the throat. Bateman is kind and earnest, but on their road trip from Florida to Denver they come to understand and even like one another.

There are some funny moments, but many nasty and crude episodes, even cruel ones too. They are being chased by a pair of ruthless mob hit men and a nasty skip tracer to liven up the action. There’s even a frightening encounter with snakes. But the worse turn of events is the nasty McCarthy becoming a kind-hearted soul who does the right thing in the Hollywood ending.

Both McCarthy and Bateman are better than this material. Although they do try their best, it defeats them. It’s a pale copy of better movies like Midnight Run or Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Rating: two deer out of five

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Alf Cryderman is a Red Deer freelance writer and old movie buff.