It’s a week after January – the dumping ground for the film industry – and a week before Valentine’s Day. That means it’s time for the studios to squeeze a few new releases in. The biggest release of the week is Identity Thief, the first leading role film for Oscar nominee Melissa McCarthy. The film stars Jason Bateman as Sandy Patterson, a mild-mannered financial bureaucrat whose world is turned upside down when his identity is stolen. The culprit? Someone going by the name Diana (McCarthy) who’s racking up piles of debt using fake credit cards with Patterson’s name. In order to save his life and protect his family, Sandy flies to Florida to find Diana and bring her back to his home in Colorado to prove his innocence.
The plot of Identity Thief is rather generic, but the saving grace is in the casting. McCarthy has made the most of her limited screen appearances, delivering two of the funniest scenes in the recent This Is 40 and earning a well-deserved Oscar nomination for her scene-stealing role in Bridesmaids. If you think that giving McCarthy a few hours of screen time makes her humor wear thin, you’re mistaken. With help from Bateman, one of the best straight men in comedy, McCarthy turns a fairly predictable story into the first genuinely funny film of the year.