Sign in using your account with
Identity Thief: Flawed Comedy Saved by the Brilliance of Melissa McCarthy
Amazing things can happen when you have two powerful leads paving the way in a film. However, if the script isn't up to scratch, the same film can often fluctuate erratically between wonderful and horrendous. Directed by Seth Gordon and penned by Craig Mazen, Identity Thief is the latest road-trip comedy to hit the big-screen and although its already worn-out premise might be disconcerting to some, there are plenty of comedy moments to silence cynics.
Sandy Bigelow Patterson (Bateman) is a Colorado accountant who likes to live by the rules. Not known for taking risks, he is extremely undervalued at his position at a big financial firm – run by greedy Harold Cornish (Favreau). But the job offers financial security and allows him to safely provide for his pregnant wife Trish (Peet) and their two little girls. However, when a long-overdue bonus continues to elude him, Sandy changes his tune. He makes a risky decision and accepts a senior position at newly-founded company and his fortunes starts to slowly change for the good.
Unfortunately, all of that goes down the drain when he learns of a woman who has stolen his identity, gained access to his bank account and is living it up in Florida. Sandy quickly begins to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars and he even ends up in a spot of trouble with the police. In order to clear his good name from the supposed misdeeds, and to save his job, Sandy has no choice but to travel down to Florida in order find the woman posing as him and bring her back to Denver to face the music.
Of course, not everything is as easy as it sounds and he soon learns that the larger-than-life, rowdy and highly perverted Diana, aka Sandy, will not go down without a fight – or two, or three.
Firstly, the film does have its share of problems. To begin with, it's over-plotted and a little lengthy at almost two-hours in running time. Secondly, subplots appear and disappear, just like that with no explanation and no reason as to why they made an appearance in the first place. Yes, at times we feel that we've seen these scenes before – in some other, perhaps, better films – and yes, you can see the ending a mile away. But what makes these shortcomings okay and worthy of forgiveness? The answer is simple; the overriding chemistry between the two leads.
They make everything worthwhile and turn the bumpy road into a smooth ride of hilarious back-talk, deadpan sarcasm and the occasional surprise moment of sincere emotion.
Needless to say, McCarthy is the star of the show. Despite a few moments of laugh-inducing vulgarity, she actually shines most in the more subtle scenes. As for Bateman, the king of straight-faced humour takes to his role like a pro.
And so despite its weaknesses, Identity Thief's solid cast still guarantees a good time for comedy fans.
What can you say about the seemingly unstoppable force that is Nicolas Cage that hasn’t been said before? A magnet for the most troubled, muddled and just generally exasperating films to hit cinemas in the last five years, his latest work in USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage does nothing to change his fortunes.
Despite being based on one a true story that has all the makings of a war epic, the Mario Van Peebles-directed USS Indianapolis bleeds all and any gravitas and emotion out of its incredibly dramatic source material.
The story goes as thus: the eponymous US Navy cruiser delivered the first parts of the atomic bomb that would go on to devastate Hiroshima, before being torpedoed by the Japanese navy, leaving some 300 of the 1000-plus crewmen dead and the rest stranded in shark-infested waters. Said sharks, along with dehydration and salt water poisoning, leave just over 300 survivors to be rescued.
At the centre of the ensuing hubbub is Cage’s Captain McVay, who many, very unreasonably, blame for the death of the 700 or so victims – so you see, it’s a very complex story, but one that very quickly descend into and exercise on how not to make a war film.
The occasional laughable CGI aside, Cage is oddly sedate, bordering on placid, in his role – yes, the central character is possibly the flattest element of the film, while seasoned actors, Tom Sizemore and Thomas Jane, are given little to chew on in their respective roles.
While starting exactly as one would expect a war film to, the wreckage part of the film turns into cheap disaster movie, before turning into a courtroom drama in the final act. It’s a muddle of a film that fails to really drum to the beat of McVay’s potentially brilliant arc as a firm commander that eventually buckles under the unjust pressure he receives back at home.
Bad CGI, a mammoth two hour-plus running time and Nic Cage can be forgiven, but what’s at the heart of this film’s mess is the script. Jumping from event to event, plotline to plotline, at a whim, with Cage’s soft murmured speech used to pave over the transitions, USS Indianapolis’s pacing is that of a film hurrying to stuff as many ideas and threads as possible – expect that’s not the case. Van Peebles tries so hard to build the layers of an epic, when, actually, all he needed to do was tell this simple but stirring story as it is.
Ludicrous, crass but also undeniably fun,Ted 2 - the sequel to Seth MacFarlane’s successful 2012 comedy, Ted –proves to be a more consistent and better drawn-out affair than its predecessor, even if the jokes – which there never seems to be a shortage of– don’t always land where they’re supposed to.
Picking up shortly after the events of the first film, Ted 2 is once again centred on best-buds and avid stoners, John Bennett (Wahlberg) and his talking teddy bear, Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) who, as it turns out, don’t seem to be living out their happily-ever-afters with the women in their lives. See, John has divorced the love-of-his-life, Lori (Kunis), and Ted, who at the beginning of the film shares his “I Do’s” with his human-bride, Tami-Lynn (Barth), is in constant clashes with his new wife.
Deciding that the best way to reconcile and put an end to all the bickering is to start a family, Ted reaches out to his best-friend for help; a decision which soon proves rather messy. However, Ted’s civil rights are soon called in to question by the government who wish to brand Ted as property as oppose to a living thing, leaving John and Ted with no choice but to turn to the rookie – and pot-loving- lawyer, Samantha (Seyfried) for some legal help in an attempt to prove that Ted is a living being with rights of his own. Hence the tagline ‘Legalise Ted’.
Endless pop-culture references and MacFarlane’s distinct brand of abstract toilet humour is once again the integral part of the story. While the first film lent most of its focus on Wahlberg and his romance with Mila Kunis – the actress was written out of the script due to her pregnancy with husband Ashton Kutcher – Ted 2 shifts the focus onto the talking teddy and his battle to be recognised, essentially, as a human.
The decision to shift proves to be a smart move, although the film does tend to take itself a little too seriously at times; in addition, Wahlberg – whose deadpan delivery is almost always spot on – seems to shine more in his secondary role.
Ted 2 is neither ambitious nor smart and its jokes are often offensive and pretty vulgar. Nevertheless, it’s a fun goofy kind of vulgarity that will ensure more box office success and probably even a third film.