“Side Effects” (Drama/Crime: 1 hour, 46 minutes)
Starring: Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Channing Tatum
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Rated: R (Violence, profanity, nudity and sexuality)
Movie Review: “Traffic” and “Erin Brockovich,” both 2000 films, were some of Soderbergh’s best work. He has helmed other good films also, but “Side Effects” is just above average.
Dr. Jonathan Banks (Law) treats Emily Taylor (Mara), who is suffering from strong bouts of depression. Dr. Banks prescribes a number of drugs for Emily, but none appear effective until Banks prescribes a new drug as treatment. The new drug has side effects that prove dangerous for Emily and her husband, Martin (Tatum).
This screenplay by Scott Z. Burns, who teamed up with Soderbergh for “Contagion” (2011), has a messy plot that makes characters either too smart or dimwitted infrequently. This makes for an uneven plot and character shifts that are not believable.
The acting is good. Mara is especially alluring, and Zeta-Jones is creepy. They help create an interesting crime thriller.
The problem is the plot appears to be a stretch. The double- and triple-crossing by characters becomes too much. The characters are not that convincing because of this.
Still, the film does plenty to make itself intriguing enough to please. The multiple plot twists wreck the picture, but they still leave room for entertainment.
Grade: B- (It has side effects, but they are minimal.)
“Identity Theft” (Comedy: 1 hour, 51 minutes)
Starring: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy and Robert Patrick
Director: Seth Gordon
Rated: R (Violence, sexuality and profanity)
Movie Review: To save his job, Sandy Bigelow Patterson (Bateman) travels from Denver to Miami to bring back Diana, the woman stealing his identity. The return trip to Denver will not be an easy one. Diana is trouble, and more than a few people are searching for her.
Directed by Gordon (“Horrible Bosses,” 2011), what should be an easy plot becomes overly complicated. However, entertainment can be found within the worst screenplays. This is the case with “Identity Theft.”
Bateman and McCarthy are gratifying comedic actors. They are likable, which carries the film when lame moments — and they are plentiful — arrive. Their characters spend nearly a week together arguing, often acting like squabbling siblings.
The only thing missing was someone to yell, “Behave, or I will turn this car around.”
Too bad no one is around to yell those words. This screenplay could use some discipline, even if occasionally funny.
Grade: C (It takes your money but leaves your identity intact.)