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Billy Summers: 'Identity Thief' a laugh-a-minute flick

Feb. 15, 2013 @ 11:31 AM

It has been a long, long time since I have laughed as hard while watching a movie as I did at “Identity Thief.” The Seth Gordon (“Horrible Bosses,” “Four Christmases”) directed comedy is absolutely wonderful.

A lot of the reason is the excellent casting of stars Melissa McCarthy (“Bridesmaids,” “Mike & Molly,” “Gilmore Girls”) as Diana, and Jason Bateman (“Arrested Development,” “Extract,” “Horrible Bosses”) as Sandy.

As Sandy, Bateman brings the straight-laced “everyman” role that he does so well. He is great as your normal white guy, in an everyday world of job, family and suburbia.  

Here, he plays a suit and tie accountant whose identity has been stolen and is ruined, all in one day.

McCarthy, as the identity thief, is hilarious throughout the entire movie, jumping all over the place, with enough characterizations that even Robin Williams would stop and wonder, “Whoa, what gives?”

And, yes, it IS partially because she is a short, round fireball, who is fun to watch because she is not a shapely Tina Fey or Amy Poehler. The scenes of her physically running from Bateman’s character reminded me of Lou Costello running through his 1940s and ‘50s films.

She does the Robin Williams-style meandering of characters better than any other female (or male, for that matter) that I have ever seen.

It helps that writers Craig Mazin and Jerry Eeten bring out a great script and storyline that blazes along at breakneck speed, never slowing down to let the audience catch up.

This is a chase/buddy comedy along the lines of DeNiro and Grodin in “Midnight Run” or Wilder and Pryor in “Silver Streak,” except in “Identity Thief” it is all about the two characters.

Even though various other stars share the second tier, among them, John Cho (“Star Trek,” “Harold & Kumar” movies, “Go On”) as business associate Daniel Casey and Robert Patrick (“Terminator 2,” “The Sopranos,” “The Unit”) as a bounty hunter, doing his best  Kris Kristofferson imitation. Both do well in their roles.

Probably the standout second level role is Eric Stonestreet ( “Modern Family,” “C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation”) as Big Chuck, a Texas-sized barfly who steals a couple of scenes in the middle of the film.

Everyone else is just window dressing for the wild performances of McCarthy and Bateman as they complement each other, in what will definitely become a comedy classic.

Everyone should see this movie, either now, or when they are really feeling “down,” because if there ever was a movie that a doctor could prescribe for depression, it is this one.

The critics panned this one as average (or less); but, everyone can be wrong once in a while…

Billy Summers is a freelance photographer who also reviews films for the Putnam Herald. He can be reached at summers855@yahoo.com.