Posts Tagged ‘Identity Thief’


Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 2.21.04 PMRichard and CP24 anchor host Nneka Elliot have a look at he weekend’s big releases, Melissa McCarthy’s “The Boss,” Jake Gyllenhaal in “Demolition” and “Hardcore Henry’s” wild action.

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 10.38.38 AMRichard and “Canada AM” host Jeff Hutcheson kick around the weekend’s big releases. They find out if the boss is always right in Melissa McCarthy’s “The Boss,” if Jake Gyllenhaal can overcome his grief in “Demolition,” how Hank Williams became a star in “I Saw the Light” and if “Hardcore Henry” should come with a medical advisory.

Watch the whole thing HERE!


THE BOSS: 2 STARS. “time to admit that “The Boss” is not always right.”

The BossMelissa McCarthy is funny. Committed to wringing every last laugh out of her scripts, she’ll do anything to get a giggle and I think that’s what makes her latest film, “The Boss,” kind of an uncomfortable watch. You can tell she’s working on overdrive trying to mine jokes out of as script that is unwilling to give them up. Few bosses have ever worked this hard for this little return.

She plays Michelle Darnell, a mix and match of Leona Helmsley and Martha Stewart. A child of neglect, she’s now the ruthless ideal of the virtues of greed whose brash attitude and potty mouth have made her a “cash champion” and the 47th wealthiest woman in America. When her ex-lover and nemesis Renault (Peter Dinklage) leaks information to the SEC a conviction for insider trading brings down her empire. After a jail sentence she’s freed, homeless and without a dime to her name.

Her former assistant Claire (Kristen Bell) grudgingly gives Michelle a place to stay, allowing her to move into the small walk-up apartment she shares with her preteen daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson). With the new living arrangement comes a new business opportunity in the form of Claire’s delicious home baked brownies. “This is my way back,” she says. “You’re looking at Darnell 2.0.”

A mix of vulgarity, slapstick and sentimentality, “The Boss” starts slow and despite a funny-ish midsection never fully recovers. McCarthy pulls out all the stops, leading the violent charge in a turf war between Darnell’s Darlings and a Girl Guides troop called the Dandelions and never misses a pratfall, but the material just isn’t there.

Her trademark is making unlikeable characters likable. We’ve seen her do it in everything from “Tammy” to “Identity Thief” and beyond, but she’s met her match with Michelle Darnell. She’s so terrible she was returned to an orphanage by three sets of adoptive parents. Later in life she’s told at a country club, “no one at this table likes you,” and it’s not hard to see why. The warmth of her previous characters is AWOL and no amount of late movie sentimentality will change that.

Coming off a career high with the very funny “Spy” makes “The Boss” an even bigger disappointment. A capable and agreeable cast surrounds her—but I wish they had given Bell something more interesting to do—and certainly the idea of unchecked avarice is ripe with comedic possibilities but it never gels. When the best you can say about it is that it’s better than “Tammy,” the last film she made with director (and husband) Ben Falcone, it’s time to admit that “The Boss” is not always right.


Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 2.35.00 PMRichard’s CP24 reviews for “Spy,” “Entourage,” “Hungry Hearts” and “Insidious: Chapter 3.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 2.38.03 PMRichard’s “Canada AM” reviews for “Spy,” “Entourage” and “Hungry Hearts.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Metro In Focus: I Spy another Melissa McCarthy blockbuster

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 3.48.18 PMBy Richard Crouse

I used to find Melissa McCarthy frustrating.

Director Paul Feig calls her “one of the funniest people in the world.” Her husband, actor Ben Falcone, says she “will do anything to get a laugh” but her tendency to go for the easy gag often put me in the mind of Will Ferrell in his Blades of Glory nadir.

Thanks to a string of hits like Bridesmaids, Identity Thief, The Heat and Tammy and an $809,163,263 box office total, McCarthy is a rarity in Hollywood, a female comedy superstar. Everyone agrees she is a skilled comic actor who amplifies the funny in good movies and elevates the jokes in lesser scripts but the latter is why I used to find her exasperating. Much of her recent work—this weekend’s very funny Spy notwithstanding—has relied on her major personality to magnify minor material.

There’s no arguing with the kind of financial success she has enjoyed but critical accolades have been elusive. The Wall Street Journal, for instance, said of Tammy, “The movie’s principal intention is to make you laugh at a loser, and revel in scenes from which polite people would instinctively turn away.”

Bridesmaids was her flashpoint, the film that broke her out of the TV sidekick treadmill. As Megan—imagine a feral, female Guy Fieri—she stole the show out from under other, better known stars like Kristen Wiig and earned an Oscar nomination. It’s a wonderful, weird performance that hinted at great things to come but aside from a few inspired moments she has not made good on the promise of Bridesmaids. Her work has come to rely too heavily on a stock character, the obnoxious loser with a heart of gold buried beneath a thick shell of one-liners and non sequiturs.

“I’ve played a lot of characters who are very vocal, very aggressive,” she told me in 2014. “For the women I’ve played there is a reason why they are so ballsy and it is nice when you see the crack in the veneer and you realize, ‘It’s part of their insecurity. They stay loud so nobody yells at them.’”

It’s an interesting character breakdown but one that played itself out by the end of 2013’s Identity Thief when I believe she became infected with Will Ferrell disease.

There was a time when Will Ferrell could do no wrong. At least that’s what the directors of Blades of Glory, Land of the Lost and Semi-Pro thought. Popular with audiences, he was allowed to run riot in a series of so-so films resulting in the bleak middle period of his career where manic energy replaced humor in his films.

McCarthy suffers from the same affliction. She is funny, she knows how to deliver a line, but in Identity Thief, The Heat and Tammy she’s off the chain, Ferrelling her way through underwritten scripts.

Ferrell turned things around and so has McCarthy. In St. Vincent she took a step away from her well-established comedic persona to deliver laughs and show her dramatic range.

Her latest film, Spy is also welcome return to form. Paired once again with director Feig, the movie offers up the best of both worlds, a funny, smart script and a director who knows how to maximize her talents. As Susan Cooper, a CIA computer-analyst-turned-international-field-agent-on-a-mission-of-revenge, she’s likeable, funny and most importantly, reigned in.

SPY: 4 STARS. “Melissa McCarthy has better action scenes than Jason Statham.”

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 3.47.22 PMThe new movie “Spy” has all the stuff you expect from a secret agent flick. There’s exotic locations, shoot-outs, beautiful women, handsome tuxedoed men and plenty of action. That Melissa McCarthy has better action scenes than co-star Jason Statham is just one clue that it’s also a comedy. The next clue is the constant stream of laughs coming from the ensemble cast.

McCarthy is Susan Cooper, a CIA computer analyst who guides the field agents through their missions. She’s in love with Bradley Fine (Jude Law), a James Bond type—think Daniel Craig without the menace—who rhetorically asks, “Who’s the finest of them all?” after taking down his enemies. As accomplished as Susan is behind-the-scenes, Fine and her boss Agent Crocker (Allison Janney) treat her like a lap dog. When Fine disappears during a dangerous mission Crocker decides they need an unknown agent to complete his assignment and locate a Bulgarian arms dealer named Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne). Cooper, thirsty to avenge Fine’s death volunteers and despite the protests of senior agent Richard Ford (Jason Statham), is sent to Paris to track Boyanov and stop Sergio De Luca (Bobby Cannavale) from selling a nuke to a terrorist organization.

In “Spy” McCarthy leaves behind the aggressive but damaged comedic persona of “Identity Thief,” “The Heat” and “Tammy” and is likeable, funny and most importantly, reigned in. “Spy” is funny, but feels so much more disciplined than any of McCarthy’s last handful of films. Director Paul Feig knows when to let McCarthy off the leash—there are some wild slapstick scenes here but he also knows when to pull her back and let the script do the work. She’s appeared in a string of weakly written comedies that required her to pull out all the stops to wring a laugh or two from poor scripts. Here she has the best of both worlds—a funny, smart script and a director who knows how to maximize her talent.

The supporting cast who knows when to work and when to get out of the way ably assists. It’s fun to see Statham have fun with his tough guy persona—“This arm was ripped off,” he says indicating his right arm, “and reattached with this one,” raising his left.—and Byrne’s mastery of one liners gives McCarthy a run for her money in the laughs department.

McCarthy Ferrelled it in several films, replacing humor with manic energy, but she’s in top form in “Spy,” generating genuine laughs and excitement for the upcoming “Ghostbusters” sequel she’s planning with Feig.


Identity-Thief-1There is nothing funny about identity theft. The nefarious practice of pretending to be someone else for profit has exploded in the Internet era and ruined many lives. But if the adage tragedy plus time equals humor is true, then perhaps it’s time for an R-rated comedy about a man who finds himself saddled with a stranger’s debt to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.

After struggling midlevel executive Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) foolishly divulges his credit card information over the phone to Diana (Melissa McCarthy) she steals his identity and quickly racks up five-digit debt on his cards. When the cops in his home state of Colorado inform him they can’t do anything unless she comes Denver, he goes to Florida, finds her and vows to drive her back, across country, to justice.

There is suspension of disbelief. Then there’s stretching the limits of believability. And then there is whatever you need to fully cope with the outlandish plot of “Identity Thief.” I don’t demand that my movies make perfect sense. Far from it. If I’m into the story I can overlook some leaps in logic. But the plot twists here simply don’t work. For one thing, I guess simply cancelling the stolen credit cards lacks comedic possibilities, but it would have been the right thing to do and would have spared us this mostly unfunny “comedy.”

If you struggle past the ludicrous situations, the unisex jokes—almost every single character comments on how Sandy sounds like a girl’s name–the unnecessary subplot about two hired killers (T.I. and Genesis Rodriguez) hot on the tail of our fugitives and the desperately underused comedic stylings of the usually hilarious Eric Stonestreet and John Cho, you’re left with a stitched together series of events that happen not because they work as a story, but because they set up situations in which stars Batman and McCarthy can do their thing.

McCarthy’s timing is perfect. Over dinner when she’s asked, “Do you know what a sociopath is?” She replies, “Do they like ribs?” Not a great gag but her timing sells it. Imagine what she might have done with actual jokes. Ditto Bateman.

Like “Due Date,” another recent ill-fated road movie with a likable cast—Robert Downey Jr and Zach Galifianakis—“Identity Thief” is another road comedy flatter than a long stretch of highway.