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Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman's 19% Rotten Tomatoes comedy is a bonafide hit on Netflix

The film was hated by critics but enjoyed a healthy box office run.

Bateman and McCarthy in Identity Thief
Image credit: Universal Pictures

Cast your mind back to 2013 when Identity Thief, starring Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy had freshly arrived in theaters. It might have managed to reach number one at the box office upon release, but it has proved distinctly forgettable in the ensuing years. At least, until this week, when it landed on Netflix as the #3 most streamed film on Netflix in the US.

Identity Thief wasn’t merely unremarkable, mind you. It enjoys a startling 19% approval rating on Rotton Tomatoes, which, while not among the lowest-rated comedies on the site, certainly doesn’t inspire much confidence. The main complaints were the uneven script that wasted the comedic talents of Bateman and McCarthy and an overreliance on recycled gags to deliver laughs. It enjoyed a healthy box office run but hasn’t proven nearly as memorable as other films featuring its two stars.

The film was slated by reviewers a decade ago, but modern audiences have clearly found something worth watching as it is currently rated number three on Netflix in the United States. Aside from the fact that it has just hit the streaming site a decade after it was released, we’re not sure what is drawing viewers to the movie. It is possible that McCarthy’s surprisingly good run as Ursula in this year’s The Little Mermaid remake increased interest in her prolific catalog of films, or it could just be a case of morbid curiosity. It couldn’t possibly be as bad as we all remember, right?

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Whatever the case, Identity Thief is enjoying a surprising second life on Netflix at the moment. Whether it lasts is an entirely different matter.