Identity Thief vs Side Effects

Kenny D February 8, 2013 0

identity thief vs side effectsThis week, our two contenders for the box office crown are the Jason Bateman & Melissa McCarthy fraud comedy versus Steven Soderbergh’s final movie. I swear that at least by April, we’ll start to get some good movies released.

Identity Thief

identity thiefI knew I was going to have a problem with this movie when I first saw the trailer. Right in the middle of the dull trailer was a short commercial tie-in for LifeLock. I’m of the Fight Club generation, so I am completely put off when I see that kind of product placement aligned with a “hilarious” crime comedy.

Jason Bateman plays Michael Bluth who plays as Sandy Bigelow. His asexual name leaves him open for Melissa McCarthy to take his identity and spend thousands of dollars with credit cards she opens in his name. He is about to start his dream job and finally be able to support his family until it all comes crashing down because his credit has been destroyed and there are even drug charges tied to his name.

The police tell him that their hands are tied due to their jurisdiction, so they give him the strange advice to fly to Florida, pick up this strange criminal, and fly her back to Denver so they can clear his name. Seems like a ridiculous plot, no?

It is completely ridiculous. Once he finally tracks down Melissa McCarthy and forces her to join him back to Denver, they start a long, disaster-ridden road trip through the nation. To add to the nonsense, they are pursued by a bounty hunter and two murderous cartel members who have had prior dealings with Diana (McCarthy).

This is a very busy movie. We have all enjoyed Jason Bateman as the straight man throughout his career. He always deals with crazy people in common sense ways. But in this movie, the good guy persona starts to wear thin.

Melissa McCarthy is a very funny woman, as evidenced by her role in Bridesmaids. This movie shows that too much of her is just that, too much. She did have some great moments in this movie (at least 6 or 7). I found myself laughing much more than I hoped I would. It’s nice when there are clever jokes outside of the ones shown in the trailer. My main issue with McCarthy was the inclusion of heartfelt moments. There were times when this movie puts on the sympathy card pretty thick to make you feel terrible for this woman. I wish it had just remained an all-out comedy.

If I were to compare this movie to any comedy, it would be to Horrible Bosses (with the absence of Charlie Day and hot Jennifer Aniston). Oddly enough, both movies are from the same director. There are laughs to be had, but it just becomes one of those “everything bad happens to the nice guy” movies. It’s a rental.

Side Effects

jude lawLet me get this out of the way. I really dislike Steven Soderbergh’s movies. I think he’s an overrated hack. I even went as far as to pre-emptively call this movie the 5th worst movie of 2013. It hurts to say this, and it doesn’t happen often, but I was wrong.

Rooney Mara (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) plays a woman suffering from severe depression. Her husband (Channing Tatum) has just been released from prison, where he served a few years for committing insider trading. But his reappearance back into her life has turned her into an emotional wreck. She even crashes her car full on into a concrete wall of a parking garage. She is then admitted to a therapist’s (Jude Law) care and he has her try out a few different prescription meds. The crux of the movie happens when she commits a murder while under the influence of a pill called Ablixa.

It’s at this time that Jude Law becomes the focal point of the movie and he is under investigation and public scrutiny for prescribing unknown meds to her, which resulted in the murder. I don’t want to tell you much more than this because to do so would ruin any surprises or “fun” you have have while watching. There are a few slight twists. Your enjoyment of the movie will rely on whether you appreciate the final twist or not.

I thought it provided a satisfactory ending. Without ruining much, this movie did wrap up a little too neatly, but actually getting a concrete ending is a welcome surprise. There were plenty of unnecessary minor twists (involving Catherine Zeta Jones) that added nothing to the plot. Also Rooney Mara did what she does best, play sullen and gloomy. She and Tatum don’t have enough charisma between them to fill a teaspoon. (Is charisma a liquid now?) This movie rests solely on Jude Law. He does quite well. Without his performance, this movie would fit nicely on Lifetime Movie Network.

This is a straight up rental recommendation. Which is far better than what I thought it would be. I can’t recommend that anyone see this in the theater because the first hour is dreadfully slow. Yes, there are important cues that come into play for the twist, but it could have used a more interesting pace than the quicksand it is. Surprisingly, the final third of the movie saves it from being a skip it.

Identity Thief will win the battle of the box office. I can hardly get behind either one too much. I’d recommend either watching Warm Bodies or catching up on the Oscar nominated films.

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