This week’s big release has, for the ticklish, big laughs. Now, don’t jump the proverbial gun just yet: this isn’t a smart comedy like The Invention of Lying or Death at a Funeral. But then it isn’t trying to be. It’s just plain fun.
And all of the fun that is to be had while watching Identity Thief can be summed up in one name: Melissa McCarthy. After her scene-stealing performance in the runaway hit Bridesmaids, she has never looked back, going on to steal each and every scene, movie, and television appearance she’s made. And in a medium that isn’t particularly kind to females (I’m talkin’ to you, Chevy Chase) or which gives them much to do other than play the straight man to Jim Carrey or Steve Carrell, it’s all the more remarkable that McCarthy is blazing trails where few others ever get the chance.
The straight man in this comic venture is the man with killer comic timing himself, Jason Bateman. As Sandy (yes, it’s a guy’s name), he is about as conventional as they come. He has his steady life and steady job going, well, steady. Then, one day, his identity is stolen by Diana (McCarthy), a con artist who makes Larry the Cable Guy seem positively presidential. She’s crude in an adorable sort of way and disgusting in an endearing manner akin to the way watching a newborn puppy learn to poop is endearing. It’s less “awww!” and more “awe”.
When Sandy sets out to track down the woman that has made his life a living hell, the two of them end up on a road trip that is resoundingly clichéd but, thanks to McCarthy’s hysterical performance, manages to make the mundane outright hilarious. There is the requisite gross-out romantic dalliance between two fatties that we expect in a filler of a movie like this (can’t you just see Bateman squirming?) but it still makes me laugh.
Maybe it’s because there’s something endlessly funny about two people who don’t just cop to but revel in how disgusting they are. Or maybe it’s just because Melissa McCarthy is the biggest comedy star in Hollywood right now.
Take that, Tyler Perry.