THIS an­i­mated gem is a kind of par­al­lel uni­verse to Planet 51, the 2009 an­i­mated com­edy about an astro­naut ma­rooned on an alien world and his strug­gle to get home. Ex­cept ev­ery­thing is flipped. Here, the astro­naut is a blue-skinned ET named Scorch Su­per­nova (voice of Bren­dan Fraser) cap­tured by the US mil­i­tary af­ter crash-land­ing in Area 51. He gets thrown into a hold­ing fa­cil­ity, along with ev­ery other lit­tle green man (and woman) who has ever had the mis­for­tune to run out of dilithium crys­tals in the Ne­vada desert. Like Planet 51, it’s a cute premise. But, the movie aims no higher than cute. It’s Ricky Ger­vais who re­ally shines, as the voice of a main­frame com­puter on Scorch’s home planet, Baab (pro­nounced “Bob”). THIS fit­fully funny com­edy doesn’t get the best from its name-brand play­ers, but doesn’t qual­ify as a des­e­cra­tion, ei­ther. View­ers ex­pect­ing the chem­istry that made The 40-Year-Old Vir­gin and An­chor­man hits will need to ad­just their as­sump­tions: Here, Steve Carell’s side­kick is played by Steve Buscemi, who has his own bug-eyed ap­peal, but is es­sen­tially a straight man to Carell’s Burt Won­der­stone diva. When Jim Car­rey shows up on the Strip as hip­ster stunt artist Steve Gray, any hopes of comic riff­ing be­tween him and Carell are soon dashed by the re­al­i­sa­tion that he barely reg­is­ters his co-stars’ pres­ence. Burt Won­der­stone is best ap­pre­ci­ated not as an en­sem­ble of in­spired tal­ents but as the con­ver­gence of funny ac­tors who are all star­ring in their own lit­tle movies. In the hands of bet­ter writ­ers, Carell and his co-stars would have had more to do. THIS is a desul­tory col­lec­tion of slap­stick gags, buddy-movie clichés and chase-se­quence bom­bast. Sandy Pat­ter­son (Ja­son Bate­man) re­ceives a call from a fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity op­er­a­tor who per­suades him to give her his so­cial se­cu­rity num­ber. Within a few hours, this amoral con artist (Melissa McCarthy) is on her way to rack­ing up $12 000 in credit card debt, all in Sandy’s name. The real Sandy sets off to Florida to find the fake Sandy, a jun­ket that turns into a Midnight Run- type chase from all man­ner of petty crim­i­nals, bounty hunters, cops and cor­po­rate bosses. Iden­tity Thief seeks to bal­ance the nearcon­stant stream of cru­elty with a last-ditch at­tempt at hu­man­is­ing McCarthy’s char­ac­ter, giv­ing her a phys­i­cal and emo­tional make-over. But, she’s soon back to her old tricks – slug­ging peo­ple in the throat and get­ting Tasered. View­ers will prob­a­bly be left feel­ing punched in the gut. – Wash­ing­ton Post

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