1. Identity Thief (Universal, 3,141 Theaters, 112 Minutes, Rated R): Melissa McCarthy earned an Oscar nomination for her role in Bridesmaids last year. Unfortunately, that role was so weirdly unique that it would be nigh impossible to replicate that formula. So, her return to the big screen in a bigger role no less will be closely scrutinized.
In this film, she plays a Florida scam artist that steals Jason Bateman’s identity. Bateman travels from Colorado to Miami in order to catch McCarthy and bring her back to the Rocky Mountain State so she can face charges. Since she has managed to raise the ire of a group of dangerous individuals in her hometown, a cross-country trip is exactly what she needs.
I have to admit that McCarthy garnered the biggest laughs from me as I watched the trailer. But the laughs came with shame because I chuckled when ever an act of violence was done against McCarthy. I’d like to blame the way McCarthy throws herself into these scenes with an abundance of slapstick gusto, but it’s still violence against women I was laughing at. I’m not really comfortable with that.
2. Side Effects (Open Road Films, 2,605 Theaters, 106 Minutes, Rated R): Another Oscar nominated actress is making her return to the big screen after an iconic and distinctive film role. But people are not going to be talking about Rooney Mara this time. Instead the will probably be talking about this being a legendary director’s final film.
Steven Soderburgh has stated that he will be retiring from feature films to focus on his art career. He has an eclectic resume he leaves behind. From his indie breakthrough, sex, lies and videotape to Ocean 11 and its sequels, from Erin Brockovich to Magic Mike, Soderburgh hasn’t been afraid to work in whatever genre tickled his fancy. He was all over the map, but he was never boring. Hopefully, he reconsiders his retirement. But if he doesn’t, his past work deserves to be celebrated.
This film has the makings of a Hictchcockian thriller. Mara plays a woman batting depression who is prescribed an experimental drug by her psychiatrist (Jude Law). Unfortunately, the drug has a nasty side effect, it causes Mara to sleepwalk in such a way that she does a number of mundane things in the middle of the night–cooking breakfast, setting the table, killing someone.
Yes, she kills someone and all of a sudden, Law’s character license and freedom is threaten. He must unravel the mystery before its too late.