Tagline: Is this the face of a sucker?
In Seth Gordon’s new movie Identity Thief, Melissa McCarthy has a coveted role. The director of Horrible Bosses has cast new it-girl McCarthy in a role where, at the outset, she has seemingly unlimited funds at her disposal in Miami to shop until she drops. And then she probably shops some more. The only problem (for her, at least) is the way she’s buying these goods: with an ID belonging to “Sandy Bigelow Patterson,” who happens to be an accounts rep (Jason Bateman) in far-off state. Cue the drama.
Can the real Patterson confront the woman? Will he be able to get her the 2,000 miles to Denver? And how many other hypothetical questions with glaringly obvious answers can we possibly ask in the space of one paragraph?
But the reviewers also have questions, and they seem to be asking why you’d bother spending your money — or even someone else’s — to watch Identity Thief. “McCarthy gets bashed about like a Stooge, and she bashes back with riotous abandon. Sadly, the rest of the movie is a shambles,” notes the Village Voice. And Time Out New York is even less enamored. “No matter how many times Identity Thief switches tracks, nothing works — it fails as a star vehicle, a recession-era satire, a WTF white-collar-grunt revenge tale, a Midnight Run–style buddy flick, a gross-out laughfest and a bathetic tale of broken souls. No amount of stolen guises can fix it.”
Should we believe Steven Soderbergh when he talks about making no more movies? We’ve been down this road before, and so far, he shows no signs of stopping. But if Side Effects truly is his swan song, it looks like he’s going out with his head held high.
Emily and Martin (Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum) are a successful New York couple, notwithstanding Martin’s recent stint in prison for insider trading. Soon after, Emily’s psychiatrist (Jude Law) prescribes a new drug to treat anxiety but the unexpected side effects come to the fore.
Also coming to the fore: pretty much rave reviews. Variety notes that this “elegantly coiled puzzler spins a tale of clinical depression and psychiatric malpractice into an absorbing, cunningly unpredictable entertainment.” New York magazine is also dubious about whether this is the last we’ll see of the prolific director, opening its review by stating, “If Side Effects is truly Steven Soderbergh’s farewell to theatrical filmmaking, he’s going out in sly fashion, juggling tropes from his other movies, playing games with your head based on what you think you know about him. He’s on top of his material in a way he has rarely been in the last decade.” But The Hollywood Reporter isn’t nearly as smitten, with the opinion that by “trying to merge this alarmist theme with an old-fashioned murder mystery, the filmmakers throw at least one plot-twist sucker-punch too many, leaving the viewer with an “Oh, come on” reaction to the entire film.”
NewsFeed’s Flicks Pick: Not even a contest. Side Effects packs a much greater punch. Don’t let your weekend be stolen by Identity Thief.