“Identity Thief” is a horrible mess.

This would-be comedy veers back and forth between mean and nasty and overly sentimental, resulting in a film that quickly grows tiresome.

Jason Bateman plays Sandy Patterson, a working-class family man whose life is turned upside down when his identity is stolen by a woman (Melissa McCarthy) in Florida.

With his credit rating trashed and criminal charges mounting, Patterson decides to travel from Denver to Miami to confront the woman and bring her back to justice.

This leads to a road movie that has been done many times before in much better films, such as “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” and “Midnight Run.” Craig Mazin’s screenplay is convoluted as it tries to force the duo on a cross-country trip that would take less than a day in the real world.

Instead, the journey is stretched out so we can get small roles from “Modern Family’s” Eric Stonestreet, Robert Patrick and rapper T.I.

There are mildly humorous moments, but there are many more misses than hits – largely because the film keeps shifting tones.

One moment it’s snarky (something that director Seth Gordon has pulled off quite well in “Horrible Bosses” and “The King of Kong”), but then it tries to make McCarthy’s character sympathetic. It’s a decision that proves to be a gross miscalculation.

Bateman is fine in a role that really doesn’t give him much to do.

McCarthy is rather annoying. Yes, I realize her character is supposed to be a little nasty, but the problem is it feels just like the same character McCarthy played in “Bridesmaids.” That role worked because it is easier to take in small doses. When stretched to a two-hour movie, it becomes nails-on-a-chalkboard grating.

I hope McCarthy can branch out of this bit of typecasting (if the trailer for the upcoming “The Heat” is any indication, it appears that she will play the same character again) because I think she is talented.

Those talents are wasted here though, much like the talents of everyone involved.

Also in theaters

With a little more than a week left until the Academy Awards, “Amour” (A) arrives in Bowling Green this weekend as part of a limited run.

Writer/director Michael Haneke’s film, nominated for five Oscars, including best picture, is a strong piece of work. It’s both beautiful and gut-wrenching, a strong piece of filmmaking that is worthy of its Oscar buzz.

“Amour” tells the story of Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva), retired music teachers whose marriage is tested when Anne suffers a stroke.

As Anne’s health becomes progressively worse, their love is severely tested.

As someone who recently went through a health scare with a family member, this was very difficult to watch – powerful and realistic.

I’ve never been much of a fan as Haneke (whose previous films include “Funny Games” and “Cache”) but his style really works here. Haneke frames scenes in an unconventional manner, forcing the audience to pay attention to everything on the screen.

Trintignant and Riva, who is nominated for best actress, are both superb.

This is a film that is hard to watch at times because of its realistic portrait of a couple in their final years, but it is one that should be seen.

It’s a love story that will stay with you long after you’ve left the theater.

“Amour” is rated PG-13 for mature thematic material including a disturbing act, and for brief violence. It opens Friday at the Regal Cinema Bowling Green Stadium 12 as part of Regal Cinema’s Oscar Movie week – a marathon that spotlights all nine best picture nominees.

— To get sportswriter/movie reviewer Micheal Compton’s up-to-the minute thoughts on all things movies, visit his blog at mcompton.wordpress.com or his Twitter page at twitter.com/mcompton428. You can also email him at mcompton@bgdailynews.com.


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