If an awareness of dimming economic realities were to occupy any Hollywood genre, you'd figure the gross-out comedy would be a natural fit. Shouldn't lowest-common-denominator humor cater to the 99 percent? For the briefest of moments, as an ebullient Melissa McCarthy blithely swindles Jason Bateman’s buttoned-down Denver accounts manager by pretending to be a bank employee offering a credit protection service, there's a hint of the anarchic zeal that could have lent Identity Thief
a distinct personality. Before anyone starts pondering telemarketing fraud as a potential career, though, we're informed that Bateman's heroic financial services functionary can barely support his beatific family despite his tireless labor, while McCarthy lavishes her ill-gotten largess on a four-figure bar tab. McCarthy's effervescent crassness and Bateman's mastery of the long-suffering slow burn are as richly combustible as you'd expect, but while the sudden eruptions of frankly brutal slapstick work a treat, it's a long slog in reclaimed-hobo trousers to get there. Identity Thief
papers over gaping questions of motivation and common sense through a succession of car crashes, limp capers and even the transformative makeover, but the project as a whole is so thoroughly ill-conceived it arrives morally bankrupt. If we’ve learned anything in the past few years, it's that there’s no such thing as a comedy too big to fail.