' Jason Bateman and Bridesmaids
' Melissa McCarthy lead the cast of Identity Thief
, an all-star comedy in which a regular guy is forced to extreme measures to clear his name.With everything to lose after his identity is stolen, he'll find out how crazed you can get trying to settle a bad credit score. Unlimited funds have allowed Diana (McCarthy) to live it up on the outskirts of Orlando, where the queen of retail buys whatever strikes her fancy. There's only one glitch: The ID she's using to finance these sprees reads "Sandy Bigelow Patterson"...and it belongs to an accounts rep (Bateman) who lives halfway across the U.S. With only one week to hunt down the con artist before his world implodes, the real Sandy Bigelow Patterson heads south to confront the woman with an all-access pass to his life. And as he attempts to bribe, coax and wrangle her the 2,000 miles to Denver, one easy target will discover just how tough it is to get your name back.
Within the first minute Identity Thief makes good on its promise. A financially conscious businessman named Sandy Patterson has his identity stolen by a detestable woman named Diana, and Sandy's life is thrown for a loop. Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worse from there. As Sandy seeks to correct all the damage Diana has done to his credit, his bank account, and his professional career he puts in motion a road trip comedy that pairs the brash, physical comedy of Melissa McCarthy (a la Bridesmaids and Jason Bateman (circa any Jason Bateman movie).
By pairing the two you'd think director Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses) could work on autopilot, and the laughs would roll in at nearly every turn. But instead Identity Thief is constantly trying to juggle several utterly useless B and C plotlines, most of which are just to pad the film's length and add a little action comedy. Unfortunately, as an overt rip-off of the road trip comedies of old, Identity Thief doesn't have much to say. It's fairly predictable, meanders for far too long, regularly defies logic, and attempts to jam some emotional weight into the proceedings in the most obvious way.
There are specific character traits outlined early on in the movie, yet somehow even those are hard for screenwriter Craig Mazin to keep track of. Why cast Sandy as an Accounts Processor if you're going to set him up as the victim of identity theft. Of all people, you'd think that the guy that handles bank accounts all day would be privy to the dangers of sharing vital information. Nope, he is more than willing to give out all his important information within the first minute of the film.
On the flip side there's Diana, our identity thief, who shows little to no remorse throughout the entirety of the film, and continues to be an all-around nuisance to Sandy. However, when it comes time for the audience to empathize with Diana, we're just supposed to forget she's a criminal and actually feel that Bateman's character is the real bad guy for trying to fix his life. To be fair, McCarthy is able to flip that switch perfectly - and add some pathos to a scene - but for her character the jarring transition doesn't work. Nevertheless, McCarthy, as an actor, should be recognized for being so versatile.
It's simple inconsistencies, or poor choices, that simply ruin Identity Thief from a story perspective, making it a sloppy mess of lame sight gag after lame pratfall. There was an interesting concept there, but it was obviously left in less than capable hands.
To gauge how funny you might find Identity Thief rests solely with your love for Melissa McCarthy. Jason Bateman is typical Jason Bateman - mostly a serviceable straight man with great reaction shots and timing. But this is really a showpiece for McCarthy to show off her physical comedy at length. Unfortunately, her shtick has worn pretty thin.
Even so, the film does its best to put the two actors in various zany situations; unfortunately most of them aren't all that funny. Only a few times does the movie even muster a smirk, let alone anything that would resemble laughter. Bateman and McCarthy are talented comedians, but they're unfortunately trapped in a really foolish movie.
February 8, 2013