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Published: Wednesday, 6/5/2013

‘Identity Thief,’ fifth ‘Die Hard’ among new releases on DVD

BY RICH HELDENFELS
AKRON BEACON JOURNAL
Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy in a scene from the comedy 'Identity Thief.' Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy in a scene from the comedy 'Identity Thief.'
GUY D'ALEMA Enlarge

An appealing personality can make people go to movies that might otherwise be ignored. But such personalities don’t always save the movie.

Consider Identity Thief (Universal, $29.98 DVD, $39.98 Blu-ray/DVD/digital combo), out in stores this week. The action comedy did nicely at the box office thanks mainly to the presence of Melissa McCarthy, the standout player in the hit Bridesmaids and a regular TV presence, most recently through the CBS sitcom Mike & Molly. She is a formidable comedic presence, and Identity Thief turned her loose.

At the same time, the movie as a whole is, as I said when it was in theaters, a rambling, not entirely coherent combination of raunchy gags, slapstick, and occasional tugs at the heartstrings. 

It would fit in a genre archive next to the likes of Tommy Boy, Date Night, or Planes, Trains and Automobiles, though it’s not quite on the level of any of those movies. Revisiting the movie on Blu-ray, I didn’t see anything that changed my mind, including in the extra, unrated version that runs about nine minutes longer than the theatrical release.

McCarthy plays Diana, the title’s thief. Jason Bateman is Sandy Patterson, a businessman whose identity has been stolen by Diana, and who for various implausible reasons has to go to Florida to find her and bring her back to his Denver home to clear his name. That effort, and the ensuing trip, do not go well; not only is Diana a tough customer, there are other people on her trail. Extreme behavior piles up, but without great success. The appeal of the movie really rests on how much you like McCarthy; I like her a lot, but not enough to endorse the movie.

Besides the longer cut, extras include alternate takes (a couple of which amuse), a very brief blooper reel, a making-of piece and a guide to the van used by a Diana-chasing skip tracer (played by Robert Patrick). The van guide seems heavily improvised, and is far less funny than intended.

While Bruce Willis can be a very good actor, he often contents himself with leads and supporting roles in noisy action movies that, whatever their dramatic limitations, make a fortune with the action-loving international audience. G.I. Joe Retaliation, The Expendables 2, and A Good Day to Die Hard together made about a billion bucks worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. But sometimes it seems as if he is wearing thin with audiences; A Good Day To Die Hard (Fox, $29.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray / DVD / digital combo) is the weakest of the five Die Hard movies to date at the U.S. box office, and to the unending Die Hard fan in me.

And the movie itself showed more than a little weariness as it sent Willis’ John McClane character to Russia to help his in-trouble son (Jai Courtney). Naturally, things are not what they at first seem, and soon enough McClane and son are bickering, bonding, and blasting at stuff. I know the expectations for such films are not high, but it is possible to be preposterous and entertaining to a greater degree than Good Day manages. It has moments, sure, but nothing that reaches the crazy-escapism heights of the most recent Fast & Furious movies.

Extras include deleted scenes, sundry featurettes, audio commentary by director John Moore, and, in the Blu-ray, an extended cut of the film.

Although Lifetime has replays of its movie Ring of Fire scheduled well into June, the movie about June Carter Cash arrived on DVD on Tuesday (Lionsgate, $19.98).

Jewel stars as June, a member of country’s legendary Carter family, and the wife and frequent singing partner of Johnny Cash (played here by Matt Ross). 

A longer and richer story could have been told, since the movie is adapted from a colorful memoir of June by John Carter Cash, the son of Johnny and June. But this movie does give June her due in a way that the big-screen Walk the Line did not. Jewel is quite good, although she stumbles at one big dramatic moment. The direction by Allison Anders is solid, and the closing scene is touching.

The lone DVD extra is a Biography episode about Johnny. And be careful if you order this movie; there are others with the same title, including an end-of-the-world miniseries coming to DVD and Blu-ray on June 11.

Down video road

Killing Lincoln, the TV adaptation of Bill O’Reilly’s book, arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday (and is on digital now). Horror reboot Evil Dead will be in both formats on July 16.



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