One Big Scene: 'Identity Thief' Hits the Road … And the Road Hits Back

Sean OConnell

One Big Scene is a weekly column dedicated to spectacular visual sequences we’re recommending you see in the theater. If you have ones you’d like us to write about, let us know in the comments section.

Melissa McCarthy was involved in the funniest scene of 2011 – the bathroom scene in the wedding-dress shop in Paul Feig’s uproarious Bridesmaids. But Hollywood is a fickle town, and audiences want to know what an actor has done for them lately. 
 
For McCarthy, it’s Identity Thief, a road-trip comedy that casts her as a Florida con artist forced to answer for her crimes when the guy she’s stolen from (Jason Bateman) shows up at her door. Yet while most of Seth Gordon’s film plays off the polar-opposite odd-couple vibe between Bateman and McCarthy, there’s more action than anticipated, and a scene that qualifies for our weekly One Big Scene column.
 
But first, the reviews:
 
What critics are saying:
“Of the many qualities I adore about Melissa McCarthy as a comedian and as a dramatic actor, the best is how fully she gives herself to every character she plays.”
- Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
 
“With Identity Thief, Melissa McCarthy proves she's got what it takes to carry a feature, however meager the underlying material.”
- Peter Debruge, Variety
 
“Melissa McCarthy is riveting in simply-penned moments of remorse and confession, adding tearful depth to her ace timing and formidable physical comedy.”
- R. Kurt Osenlund, Slant Magazine
 
The Scene:
Two movies Identity Thief patterns itself after – Due Date and Planes, Trains and Automobiles – boast better-than-average auto-wreck sequences. For Todd Phillips’ comedy, it’s Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis careening off an interstate ramp after the latter falls asleep at the wheel. And few can forget Steve Martin and John Candy driving down an interstate – but heading the wrong way – in Planes, Trains. Great stuff.
 
In Thief, Jason Bateman’s mild-mannered character must come to Melissa McCarthy’s rescue when she’s apprehended by a bounty hunter (played by Robert Patrick). As they race down a highway, McCarthy’s yelling at Bateman to conduct a battering-ram technique that would be standard practice for Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger … but ends up being pretty difficult for Bateman. And his actions, as usual, cause destructive reactions – which Gordon stages with action-movie savvy. 
 
Oddly enough, McCarthy is coupling two buddy-comedy efforts this year with more than a little action. Later, she’ll play a police officer opposite Sandra Bullock in The Heat. And Identity Thief slips in an unexpected amount of action as Bateman and McCarthy run for their lives in this weekend’s comedy. Brace for a few crashes and bangs in between the laughs as you check out One Big Scene this weekend. 
 

 
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