Longer cut of a review in the Friday, Feb. 8 Oregonian....
The deadly dull action-comedy "Identity Thief" is an infuriating waste of everyone's time, on all sides of camera and screen. I did not know I could yawn angrily. This movie somehow proved it possible.
There's the promise of a timely paranoid comedy in the premise, at least. Mid-level account manager Sandy (Jason Bateman) has a third kid on the way and makes barely enough to pay his bills. He's one of those quietly terrified middle-class wage-earners who manage to ski just ahead of financial avalanche. His career upswing is endangered when a Florida grifter (Melissa McCarthy of "Bridesmaids" fame) steals his identity and racks up credit-card bills, petty arrests and bail-skipping in his gender-neutral name.
For roughly five minutes, "Identity Thief" plays with a comedically exaggerated version of the very real helplessness the victim feels in that situation -- the way identity theft visits an unasked-for second career of name-clearing on the injured party. After the police finally stop arresting Bateman's character for McCarthy's misdeeds, they start fobbing off responsibility to other jurisdictions and promising to clear things up in maybe a year. And the police attention creates just enough suspicion among Bateman's new employers to endanger his career in finance for no other reason than the suggestion of possible untrustworthiness.
But then Bateman decides to head to Florida and drag McCarthy back to Colorado himself to face charges. And the movie suddenly devolves into a tired road-trip comedy that gets lazier and stupider and more weirdly violent with each precious passing second.
Bateman is justly revered for perfecting the deadpan everyman in "Arrested Development" and elsewhere. McCarthy blazingly reinvented herself as an over-the-top comedy actor in "Bridemaids." Director Seth Gordon made a hilarious documentary in "King of Kong" and didn't embarrass himself with the uneven but frequently funny "Horrible Bosses." Which makes it all the more painful when this trio works off a screenplay by Craig Mazin ("The Hangover: Part II," "Scary Movie" 3 and 4) and ends up reaching for comic fruit that's hanging so low, it's more or less gathering flies on the ground.
How low does the fruit hang, you ask? How about multiple repeating lazy gags about Sandy's "unisex" name, McCarthy's loud outfits, McCarthy throat-punching people, McCarthy telling strangers outlandish stories about Bateman that invariably involve the mangling of his genitals, and McCarthy badly singing Kelis' "Milkshake" (twice)? (I'll also direct readers to this Gawker post that gets into "a huge problem with 'Identity Thief': The premise of so many of the film's jokes is that McCarthy is fat and isn't that hilarious?" She's better than this.)
The filmmakers pad this dreck out with an unearned late-film lurch into treacle and a fairly violent action subplot in which McCarthy is chased across the country by a bounty hunter (Robert Patrick) and two organized-crime enforcers (T.I., Genesis Rodriguez). Along the way, McCarthy absorbs levels of abuse that should turn her body into a crushed bag of marbles -- which would be fine as slapstick, except that the movie sometimes tries to play its action beats semi-straight for a second before pulling its punches.
It's lame, and I hope everyone involved has projects lined up that feel less like coasting, potential-squandering cash-grabs.
Also recommended: Drew McWeeny's taking of this flick to the proverbial woodshed.
(108 min., rated R for sexual content and language) Grade: D-plus
'Identity Thief' (The Oregonian, Friday, Feb. 8, 2013)