I wasn't expecting great things from Identity Thief, mainly because I find Melissa McCarthy's projects very hit-and-miss, but I had a pretty great time. To be clear, I like McCarthy: she's funny, a great actress, and a brilliant character actor, but she has a habit of being involved in poorly direct, poorly written films that waste her talents. Luckily, this isn't one of those. The pacing is on point, the jokes (largely) land, the plot treads a fine line between the absurd and the situational which keeps you both entertained and invested, and the various side characters all play their roles well. The setup is hardly rocket science, yet it remains fairly unpredictable throughout (in a good way) and frequently exceeds expectations.
All of which is only helped by Jason Bateman, who is his usual superb self, deftly balancing the comedy and humanity of his character. His role balances nicely with McCarthy, initially playing the rock of common sense to her (occasionally overly) slapstick character, then evolving alongside her to show a more nuanced take on the subject matter than I was expecting. Better yet, the ending doesn't simply make McCarthy into the good guy: she still goes to jail, she still owns up to her mistakes, and she still faces repercussions. But she is also shown to be actively working towards bettering herself, with Bateman and family cheering her on. It's a surprisingly solid take with more heart and realism than I was expecting, and it rounds things out nicely. A surprisingly solid movie!