Throw them together and you should have comedy pyrotechnics, but what you get is more comedy bronze than gold.
Bateman is mild-mannered accountant Sandy (cue: loads too many jokes about his ‘unisex’ name) who has a wife and two daughters.
He’s the type who plays by the rules and is always overlooked. When McCarthy’s party girl Diana steals his identity, clocking up debts and a criminal record as Sandy, he’s forced (via some narrative contrivances) to motor cross-country to bring her in and clear his name.
There are moments of brilliance, for sure – the two leads share great chemistry as McCarthy’s energetic mugging bounces off Bateman’s smart-casual eye-rolling as they’re stuck in the woods, engage in a threesome with a highly emotional cowboy called Big Chuck, and dodge a vicious bounty hunter (Robert Patrick).
Director Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses; Four Christmases) has a firm grasp of characters, making this road trip comedy more than a Road Trip knock off, but many developments, not least Sandy and Diana’s burgeoning friendship, never ring true and it begins to outstay its welcome after it’s near two-hour runtime.
Identity Thief just about gets by on McCarthy and Bateman’s star power, though, and has performed well at the US box office, where it nabbed the number one spot.
It’s just not quite the knockout comedy you might expect from this pairing, nor is it the film either of them really deserve. More average than awesome.
Good for: A few throwaway laughs, but this won’t be making your ‘favourite films’ list.
Starring: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy | 15 | 111mins | Out March 22