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‘Identity Thief’ is exactly what you should expect from Bateman, McCarthy

Published: Friday, April 12, 2013 11:27 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, April 12, 2013 12:03 p.m. CDT

“Identity Theft” had a PR problem from the onset. How many times has the “Odd Couple Meets Road Trip” been done over the years? And, how many times have Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy done raunchy comedies?

I have no idea what the answers are, but I know you could honestly answer both by simply saying, “A lot.”

And maybe that’s why the critical reviews haven’t been as kind to “Identity Thief” as they should be. I’ve often wondered if movie critics have films they just decide to “phone in,” as opposed to actually watching them for what they are and really giving them an honest critique.

Again, I have no real answer there, but I can say “Identity Thief” is a lot better than some of the critics out there have suggested. It’s certainly worth a look this weekend during the Capitol II’s full slate of cinematic activity.

I really like both actors. I think Bateman broke out into an entirely new career of comedy when he joined the cast of “Arrested Development.” I’ve been hooked on McCarthy ever since “Mike and Molly” first aired. If you like them, too, you’re not going to be disappointed.

Bateman plays Sandy Patterson, a nice guy — albeit not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree — who gives his personal information over the phone to the nice-sounding lady on the other end. McCarthy plays Sandy Patterson, a not-so-nice, throat-punching identity thief, who just stole his personal information over the phone.

After Bateman’s Sandy is nearly arrested and almost loses his job, he decides to personally track down McCarthy’s Sandy, who is now living it up on his identity, maxing out his credit cards in the process. Comedy, not for the faint of heart at times, ensues.

But it’s not just any comedy. It’s great comedy. The key to great comedy is perfect timing, which both Bateman and McCarthy mastered long before they were cast for this film. Both have a long list of “firm-R-rated” films to their credit, and perhaps that’s where the PR problem for “Identity Thief” catches up with the producers.

Hollywood knows audiences don’t go to PG-13 comedies as much as they do R comedies. Perhaps as originally conceived, “Identity Thief” was looking at a PG-13 rating. A few rewrites and a couple edits later, they got their “soft” R rating.

Maybe a few critics expected more raunchiness in the film. I, for one, was glad it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. And that’s another reason why I like “Identity Thief” so much. I know you’ll like it if you give it a chance, too.

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