BY CLAIRE WARD-BEVERIDGE
A few days ago at the local multiplex, armed with a mickey of Jameson and a very sweetly amenable date, I settled in to watch Identity Thief. I knew what I was in for, for the most part–Michael Bluth and Melissa McCarthy bumbling their way across the United States in search of some kind of justice or power or money or something, lots of slapstick humour, uncomfortable fat jokes and a few requisite cameos peppered in. And that’s pretty much what we were served–I maybe let out two, three noises that vaguely resembled a chortle? I know that I definitely cringed a ton, and the cringing only steadily increased as the movie barrelled on. We can blame all or most of the shittiness on Craig Mazin, who also wrote/co-wrote the The Hangover Part II, Scary Movie 3 and Scary Movie 4 but I must say I (along with many/most I’m sure) was rather surprised that the director had also directed King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, plus several episodes of Parks and Recreation. Weird. I’d definitely be curious to know if the team responsible for this turd-pyramid felt at all chuffed about their creation. Actually, the person whose opinion I’d be most curious to hear is that of McCarthy herself.
She seems to be everywhere you look these days, although I’m sure she’s just as busy and popular as any other actor of her age/ilk. But it definitely seemed (at least for a little while there) that her post-Bridesmaids career was looking fairly golden in terms of having both pecuniary and critical successes. The sitcom that she co-stars in is extremely popular and she’s been in several major comedic films, with more on the way. So one can’t help but see Identity Thief as something of a misstep, box office gold or not, in terms of stacking up a resume that was looking fairly promising for a while there. The film doesn’t do anything to flesh out her comedic talents in any perceivable way–she’s mainly just lampooned scene after scene of clownish exploitation and cliché. Sure, I love any solid, well-choreographed stunt as much as the next person, but after a handful of these I just kept anticipating the next like I was watching an amateur figure skating competition. I realize in many ways the entertainment industry is only just prodding the lines of women’s roles in terms of comedy, but from a female perspective, this film was especially hard to watch. What’s so fucking hilarious about McCarthy’s character masturbating with a shower-head in a bathtub? Oh, because she’s overweight, I get it. In short, I did mostly expect this film to be offensive and crappily written/directed, but I guess I half-hoped it wouldn’t be.
Claire Ward-Beveridge is a freelance writer & photographer who lives in North Parkdale, Toronto and her rattled brain. She loves Werner Herzog and depressing English dramas. Follow her @clairewarb.