Capsule reviews of new movie releases

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by Associated Press

Associated Press

Posted on February 7, 2013 at 4:05 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 7 at 4:06 PM

"Identity Thief" — It seems ironic that the title is "Identity Thief" when its co-stars have such a firm grasp on their well-established screen personae. Melissa McCarthy is the brash wild card with an off-kilter sense of humor and an underlying, slightly dangerous streak. Jason Bateman is the initially bemused but increasingly frustrated straight man whose deadpan quips seem to be the only things that keep him sane. These two opposites are stuck on a cross-country road trip together but no one's really going anywhere. Optimally, with a better script, that wouldn't be such a bad thing. Instead, "Identity Thief" strands these two ordinarily enjoyable comics in the middle of nowhere with no help for miles. "Midnight Run," it is not. It's actually not even "Due Date," which felt similarly strained. It's not just that director Seth Gordon ("Horrible Bosses") and screenwriter Craig Mazin (the reheated "Hangover Part II") confuse meanness for hilarity. There's that, including a weirdly uncomfortable thread of homophobia and/or emasculation. More fundamentally, though, the premise is just flawed. Bateman's mild-mannered accounts processor, Sandy Patterson, discovers that a con artist (McCarthy) has stolen his identity and racked up thousands of dollars in charges. They all come from the same place — Winter Park, Fla. — and they started weeks ago. But Sandy lives in Denver. Isn't this suspicious? R for sexual content and language. 107 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.

— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

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"Side Effects" — If this is indeed Steven Soderbergh's final film, as he's said it will be after toying with the notion of retirement for a couple of years now, then intriguingly it feels like he's coming full circle in some ways to the film that put him on the map: the trailblazing, 1989 indie "sex, lies and videotape." Both are lurid genre exercises, laid bare. Both focus on the intertwined lives of four central figures, including a scene in which one of the men interviews one of the women on video, hoping to unearth a hidden truth. Both movies are about danger, secrets and manipulation, filled with characters who aren't what they initially seem, all of which Soderbergh depicts with his typically cool detachment. Twists and double crosses occur and schemes are revealed as layer upon layer of Scott Z. Burns' clever script gets peeled away. Yet Soderbergh approaches such dramatic events with the same chilly tone that has marked so much of his work, even as the developments grow more than a little implausible. Rooney Mara is chilling as a troubled Manhattan woman who starts taking a new drug at the urging of her psychiatrist (Jude Law). Bad things happen. Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta-Jones co-star. R for sexuality, nudity, violence and language. 106 minutes. Three stars out of four.

— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

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