By Steve Greene | Criticwire February 7, 2013 at 5:20PM
"Identity Thief" couldn't come at a more bizarre (or inopportune) time for its two stars. Melissa McCarthy, bearer of good will from everyone in the universe, is still riding high from a two-year-old Oscar nomination and the subsequent awards-season attention for her TV work on "Mike and Molly." Meanwhile, the Internet is merely in a holding pattern until the May premiere of the long-gestating season 4 of beloved series "Arrested Development," an anticipation that would seem to afford a certain amount of excitement for the projects that star Jason Bateman has as a lead-in. Throw in the overwhelming love for director Seth Gordon's "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters" and it's hard to believe that the result of this collaboration has drawn as much pre-release ire as it has.
Yet, in one of the strongest recent examples that not everyone can bat 1.000, all of these comic sensibilities have perplexedly combined to make a swirling vortex of unlikeability that has yet to yield anything higher than a D+ from Criticwire members. Not everyone has condemned the film, but when it's just past the Super Bowl and some writers are already whispering about potential year-end worst-of material, that's not particularly promising. In grand Barbed Wire tradition, we present ten great lines from ten horrible reviews of "Identity Thief."
"By the time McCarthy punches somebody in the throat for the fifth time, and the inevitable Taser sight gag gets recycled, "Identity Thief" has challenged the best abilities of everybody on-screen...Crud has a way of doing that."
"There's an unbearably long time spent unconvincingly explaining why the police can't do anything, but presumably with all this preamble out of the way, it's time to have some fun, right? Wrong."
"The big reveal scene doesn't work because the movie has just spent 90 minutes telling us these people are cartoons."
"So far, though, [McCarthy]’s only being asked to recycle the obnoxious, uncouth and inappropriate persona that she already milked for laughs."
"Enjoy those brief guffaws, folks, since once his disgraced hero decides to drag this credit-fraud criminal from Florida to Colorado—bring on the gratuitous bounty hunter and drug-lord henchmen!—the silence that greets the film’s desperate lunges at humor becomes deafening."
"On the hacky end, a mild gag about Bateman’s character’s 'girly' name ('No, actually, Sandy is unisex!') is mechanically repeated over and over, in the vain hope that it’ll become funny through repetition."
"The hilarity that follows is a picaresque nightmare, like a Discovery Zone for sadomasochists."
"'Identity Thief' just plain doesn't work. It is a deal memo in search of an actual movie, that sophomore miscalculation that can cool a suddenly hot comedy career just as quickly as the earlier film made it happen. "
"I did not know I could yawn angrily. This movie somehow proved it possible."
"It’s less about stealing another human being’s name (and money) than about sapping the audience’s will to live."