at the center of “Identity Thief.”
As in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” the adversary we think we know at the outset (John Candy there, McCarthy here) is revealed to be something different and heartbreaking by the end. How a movie gets from A to Z is the question. “Identity Thief” paints Florida as a snake-infested (literally; there’s a scene with a snake crawling up Bateman’s pants) hotbed of prejudice and racism, and American screen comedy as little more than people shooting other people in the cheek or the foot, or someone getting smashed in the face with a guitar.
Director Seth Gordon made “Horrible Bosses,” which was actually cruder than this movie, though quite funny and nicely plotted. This time, Gordon is lost.
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.