McCarthy, Bateman Can't Save Identity Thief

One critic ignites controversy by calling Melissa McCarthy a 'hippo'

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 8, 2013 11:27 AM CST

(Newser) – No matter how much you like Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy, critics are urging you to decline Identity Thief, their new—sadly conventional and unfunny—buddy comedy. Here's what critics are saying, including one who got himself in hot water:

  • As a fan of Bateman and McCarthy, Mick LaSalle at the San Francisco Chronicle wanted to like it. But "what seemed like a good idea—a comedy based on the phenomenon of identity theft—turned out to be comic quicksand," because having your life ruined at random isn't really funny. Bateman comes off as "a dramatic character facing personal tragedy who just happens to be stuck in a supposed comedy."

  • The screenplay "tortures itself" to get its leads on a buddy-movie-esque road trip together, complains Ty Burr at the Boston Globe. "No, it doesn't make sense. Nothing in this movie makes sense. Next to Identity Thief, Inception is a marvel of sober concision." It's littered with "comedy clichés," and worse, an "obnoxious sentimentality," like the "generic equivalent of a Judd Apatow movie."
  • Rex Reed at the New York Observer has drawn criticism of his own for calling McCarthy a "tractor-sized" "female hippo" who "has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success." Many have decried the review as sexist. "Have you ever read a review where a male actor was described this way?" asks Adriana Velez at The Stir, pointing out the host of plus-sized male comedians who haven't faced that kind of ridicule.
  • Meanwhile Manohla Dargis at the New York Times thinks McCarthy is the best part of the movie, "the supernova who burns up this show." But ultimately this is "a lazy comedy" that isn't subversive enough to really cut her loose. "Order must be restored, the family reunited, the wild woman tamed." Everyone must learn a lesson, "and then everything will fit tidily, phonily together."

This undated publicity image released by Universal Pictures shows Jason Bateman, left, and Melissa McCarthy in a scene from Identity Thief.
This undated publicity image released by Universal Pictures shows Jason Bateman, left, and Melissa McCarthy in a scene from "Identity Thief."   (AP Photo/Universal Pictures)
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A trailer for "Identity Thief."   (YouTube)

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