Jason Bateman’s latest comedy Identity Thief, opens in theaters this Friday. He stars alongside Oscar nominee, Melissa McCarthy. Bateman’s made a career out of being the funny guy and has mastered the art of dry humor as mentioned on in this Guardian article.
You can get away with anything if you keep a straight face, and Jason Bateman seems to be a master at both: getting away with it, and keeping a straight face. Bateman always comes across as the sanest, smartest, straightest guy in the movie even though his characters regularly commit acts of either moral depravity or wild improbability, or both.
Ricky Gervais directed Bateman in his film, The Invention of Lying and called Bateman’s poker face “the height of comedic confidence…there may be 50 ways to play a scene in drama, but sometimes there’s only one way to nail a joke.”
Two recent Bateman films, The Switch and Extract, also found him cast as the lead ‘straight’ man, a term he doesn’t like to advertise, noting it’s not an ‘A-list’ sort of thing to do…”No one ever clamors to play the straight man.” He elaborates on this issue in an interview with Short List.
It’d be nice to try more diverse parts. But I don’t ever want to stop playing the straight man because it’s such an important element in making comedy work. You need that person who represents the audience, otherwise comedy can seem very silly and even arbitrary.
In The Switch, Bateman stars opposite Jennifer Aniston as Kassie, a smart, fun-loving single woman who, despite her neurotic best friend Wally’s objections, decides it’s time to have a baby – even if it means doing it herself – with a little help from a charming sperm donor. But, unbeknownst to her, Kassie’s plans go awry because of a last-minute switch that isn’t discovered until seven years later when Wally gets acquainted with Kassie’s cute – though slightly neurotic – son.
Bateman also recently starred in Mike Judge’s comedy, Extract, which focuses on Bateman’s character, a flower-extract plant owner contending with an ever-growing avalanche of personal and professional disasters. An employee at the factory has just suffered an unfortunate accident on the assembly line, but little does the put-upon owner realize that things are about to get much worse. As the injured employee threatens to sue and it begins to look like his company will be bought out, the frazzled owner attempts to catch the culprit responsible for stealing wallets from the coat room and begins to suspect that his wife is sleeping with the gigolo he hired to seduce her.