'Identity Thief' tops N. America box office

The comedy "Identity Thief" defied mediocre reviews by critics and topped the box office in the United States and Canada in its opening weekend, industry figures showed Monday.

The comedy, starring Jason Bateman from the TV series "Arrested Development" and "Bridesmaids" breakaway star Melissa McCarthy, pulled in $34.6 million from Friday to Sunday, according to tracking firm Exhibitor Relations.

Salon.com said the movie "reaches impressive heights of laziness and idiocy;" the Toronto Star slammed it as a "sloppily made exercise of rip-offs and redemption;" and National Public Radio dismissed it as an "uninspired trudge of a road movie."

It was followed by the romantic zombie comedy "Warm Bodies," based on Isaac Marion's book of the same name and inspired by Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," which earned $11.4 million.

Director Steven Soderbergh's new thriller, "Side Effects," starring Jude Law and Rooney Mara, opened in third place with $9.3 million.

Oscar-nominated romantic comedy "Silver Linings Playbook," starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, was fourth with $6.4 million, followed by "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunt," a horror movie twist on the classic fairy tale starring Jeremy Renner, with $5.8 million.

Horror flick "Mama" fell from fourth to sixth place with $4.2 million, followed by the Oscar-tipped Osama bin Laden manhunt movie "Zero Dark Thirty" with $4 million.

Director Ben Affleck's "Argo," the story of a bold CIA operation to rescue six US diplomats trapped by the 1979 hostage crisis in Iran, made the eighth spot, pulling in $2.4 million.

It was followed by another Oscar nominee, Quentin Tarantino's blood-soaked spaghetti Western tribute "Django Unchained," with $2.3 million.

Rounding off the list was Sylvester Stallone's latest action movie, "Bullet to the Head," with $2.1 million.