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Bateman and McCarthy Elevate Identity Thief

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Lately we have been treated to the impact of star power on movies. We saw it when Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen tackled The Guilt Trip. Their participation did not make it a smash hit but it did make a more enjoyable film than it otherwise would have been. Bette Midler and Billy Crystal did the same with Parental Guidance. What could have been ordinary became above average in their competent hands. Now we have Identity Thief, which Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy raise to a much higher level of enjoyment, just by their participation.

Bateman plays an ordinary hard-working guy named Sandy Patterson who lives in Denver, Colorado. He is going through the daily rituals of his life with his wife (Amanda Peet) and two daughters. They have a third child on the way, and Sandy has the prospect of a new job with much higher pay. All is good until he learns his identity has been stolen by a woman in Winter Park, Florida. Her name is Diana (McCarthy) but she now goes by Sandy Patterson.

With his new job on the line and the Denver police unable to help him, Sandy takes off to Winter Park to bring this woman back to explain things to his new boss. It is a bizarre action to take but Sandy is desperate. When he does manage to locate Diana/Sandy things get really tricky.

McCarthy is the heart of this movie. Somehow she manages to play a completely amoral woman who is as conniving as can be. You know you ought to dislike her intensely but there is some spark in her that touches your heart. This is the brilliance of McCarthy's performance and it keeps the audience interested in what is happening on screen.

Opposite her Bateman is the perfect "everyman." He has the audiences' compassion from the get go. You are always on his side throughout his travails, and because he somehow shows compassion for Diana you do too. This is the perfect matchup of two very talented people and they make the movie more than it ought to be.

The middle of the film sags when Sandy and Jason mix it up with a skip tracer (Robert Patrick) as well as two guns for hire (T.I. and Genesis Rodriguez) who are out to kill Sandy/Diana. Things perk up for a bit when an amorous cowboy named "Big Chuck" (Eric Stonestreet) gets involved with our duo. Still the movie is at its best when it is just Bateman and McCarthy trading quips and barbs.

The film is rated R for profanity, mild violence and brief nudity.

"Identity Thief" should be a mildly entertaining average movie but in the hands of Bateman and McCarthy it is more. These two give it their all and it works. "Identity Thief" is a movie you will want to see again and again.

I scored Identity Thief a robbed 7 out of 10.

Jackie K Cooper
www.jackiekcooper.com