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Movie Review: 'Identity Thief' Too Predictable

A movie about serious cyber crime suffers from an identity crisis.

You've got to feel sorry for Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman). Practically everyone who meets him makes fun of him for his "girl" name. He's a Milquetoast of the first order, a number cruncher in Denver whose boss is ripping him off, probably wondering why he has a girl's name.

Through a series of credit problems, he learns that his identify has been stolen by a woman (Melissa McCarthy) living the high, white-trash, big-haired life in Florida. To retrieve his life, and to avoid going to jail, Sandy leaves his family and heads to Miami.

Highjinks, bad camera work and a weak script follow, but Sandy and Sandy manage to entertain, as well as distress, viewers. But unless you're a diehard fan of the talented Melissa McCarthy, you might wish to sit this one out.

Here's what the critics are saying:

How many ways can a grown person waste valuable time and lose vital I.Q. points at the same time? If you’re a movie critic, the possibilities are unlimited. And they all come together in a new chunk of junk called Identity Thief. Rex Reed, New York Observer

Such is the identity crisis suffered by "Identity Thief." It wants to be " Midnight Run" meets " Planes, Trains and Automobiles," but it carries little of the dramatic heft and real-world semi-plausibility of those much superior efforts.

The pairing of Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy in a road trip comedy seems inspired. They're two unique comedic talents who always put an interesting spin on a line or a double take, whether starring in sitcoms or effortlessly swiping scenes in big-screen fare. Unfortunately, "Identity Thief" is a depressingly predictable road-trip buddy comedy that's far more interested in car chases, lame shootouts, physical shtick and cheap schmaltz than creating anything original. Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

The story is about as subtle as a Florida theme park. Finding his life in shambles and tracing the destruction to her door, Sandy (benefiting from a full dose of Bateman's patented contained exasperation) heads south to drag Diana to justice. And that's where everything I said earlier about McCarthy meets its first challenge: There are no pauses in this hectic madcappery, not for a minute. So there's barely an opportunity for the star to modulate her energy. Even during more tender moments, she's working her butt off. The fault, I think, isn't in our stars but in the script, running up a huge comedy tab the likable players can't pay off. Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

With their releases coming less than two months apart, the double-whammy of bad road trips represented in the under-performing The Guilt Trip and now the hard-to-watch Identity Thief may reduce the appeal of cross-country driving trips by a measurable amount. With Melissa McCarthy (no relation!) playing a one-woman demolition team who, for 95 percent of the running time, is a genuine affront to nature, there are unavoidably some laughs here, although the gifted comic actor got more of them in less screen time in her previous films than she does in this starring role. Her following is so deservedly loyal that Universal should expect a robust opening weekend, but the gas tank will likely run dry fairly soon. Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter

With "Identity Thief," Melissa McCarthy proves she's got what it takes to carry a feature, however meager the underlying material. Sustaining the same brand of unpredictable energy that made her such an effective scene-stealer in "Bridesmaids" and "This Is 40," McCarthy plays the tornado to Jason Bateman's uptight nebbish, an accountant who drives halfway across the country to confront the zealous con artist who stole his personal information, maxed out his credit cards and tarnished his good name. Though this adult-skewing comedy looks like a midrange performer at best, McCarthy's credit rating should skyrocket. Peter Debruge, Variety

"Identity Thief" is rated R and runs 1 hour and 51 minutes. Check Moviefone.com for times near you. 

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