Fiscal Cliff

Obviously, there's much to be said for being in a relationship, but being single has its perks as well, one of which is that I get the final say on every piece of culture that I consume. If a movie trailer completely turns me off or a television show looks stupid, it's a safe bet that I won't ever be corralled into watching it. Last week, however, I went on a date with a pretty charming gentleman, and I wanted to be affable, so I agreed to go out and see Identity Thief, despite having zero interest in it.

Here are the good things about Identity Thief: They totally rip on Ayn Randian-style "job creators". Melissa McCarthy has one affecting, emotional scene.

Here are the bad things about Identity Thief: Everything else. I guess 7 good minutes out of 111 ain't bad. Oh, wait - yes, it is. So in this movie, Jason Bateman is a put-upon working stiff (shocking, I know), whose identity is stolen by Melissa McCarthy, who is a brash, loud mess of a woman with serious problems appropriately relating to other people (shocking, I know). She's able to do this because Bateman's character's name is Sandy, which is totally girly, isn't it? No, not particularly? Well, the movie thinks it's hilarious, and will be telling you so no less than half a dozen times.

Even though Jason Bateman makes practically no money, Melissa McCarthy is able to spend a week racking up huge debts in his name (huh?), and when the credit card company won't accept his word that fraud has been committed (huh?), the police show up to arrest him for missing his court date in Florida (huh?). This puts his job in jeopardy (huh?), so since the police are no help tracking this woman down (huh?), they agree to let Bateman go to Florida, collect Melissa McCarthy, and bring her back to Colorado, where she will confess everything, go to jail, and the whole matter will be cleared up. HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUH? This ridiculous set-up out of the way, we get to the real "meat" of the movie, which is basically your usual hijinx-filled road trip across the country, a la Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.

There are slapstick jokes and masturbation jokes and kinky sex jokes and a makeover scene, which, fine. They're not funny or interesting, but I knew that's what I'd be getting into with this movie. Where it really runs off the rails is a completely anemic, extraneous plot involving assassins and a bounty hunter trying to bring down Melissa McCarthy before she gets to Denver, I guess in an attempt to raise the stakes. It doesn't work. Naturally, everything turns out okay in the end, with Bateman's name cleared, his job saved, and McCarthy turning over a new leaf. Hooray.

Identity Thief is not the worst movie I've ever seen. It has a beginning, middle, and end. I smiled a couple of times. But that actually counts against it. If a movie (TV show, book, game, etc.) is going to fail, I'd rather it fail spectacularly. At least then, it's intriguing, even if it's for all the wrong reasons. Movies like this are just bland mush that will be justifiably forgotten within a couple of years. Even if it was a terrible movie, it wasn't a terrible date. I'll be going out with that charming gentleman again, but rest assured that when I do, I get to pick the movie next time.

Identity Thief: D+


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