Identity Thief

Identity Thief photo starrating-2andahalfstars.jpgIdentity Thief is a second-rate comedy with superlative talent. Why second rate? Let’s start the mostly uninspired script. Its lazy cribbing from the blueprint of the infinitely superior Planes, Trains and Automobiles is pretty shameful. Replace Steve Martin with Jason Bateman and John Candy with Mellissa McCarthy. Then shake up the circumstances that justify why this pair must travel together. In this case, a victim of identity theft, Bateman as Sandy Patterson, must actually find, apprehend and bring into custody, the criminal himself in an effort to clear his good name. McCarthy plays the proverbial thief who goes by the name Diana at one point. It’s a setup with potential, but the script just doesn’t have enough laughs to sustain the 108 minute running time.

There are too many scenes where nothing of interest happens.  Perhaps that explains why the plot has been made needlessly complex. There’s enough conflict amongst our star duo during their road trip together, so it’s perplexing why the screenwriters felt the compulsion to add not one, not two, but three baddies in relentless pursuit. Robert Patrick is a skiptracer that has been hired to locate Diana after she jumped bail. Then there are a couple of thugs played by Génesis Rodríguez and T.I. who are also hot on Diana’s trail because she gave their boss some bad credit cards. It’s hopelessly contrived. The characters are completely unnecessary because they barely even interact with our star twosome. Their presence is simply a distraction from the story at hand. Whenever these pursuers are on screen, the comedy comes to a crashing halt.

Despite all this, Bateman and McCarthy do have chemistry. Not as a romantic couple, but as a comedic duo. Their repartee is the ONLY reason that this buddy comedy has any merit whatsoever. I challenge you not to chuckle during McCarthy’s rendition of ‘Milkshake’ by Kelis or giggle at Bateman’s escalating exasperation. Without them, this road trip would have never even left the garage. With that said, her character’s behavior is wildly inconsistent. McCarthy is forced to play the fraud from Florida with a fluctuating personality that is bordering on schizophrenic. She vacillates between an unrepentant fiend and a misunderstood outsider. I suppose the latter portrayal makes the saccharine ending that tugs on your heartstrings a little easier to accept. Unfortunately, as much as I love the two stars, I cannot in good conscience give this film a pass.


27 Responses to “Identity Thief”

  1. Well said, I love the two stars as well but just did not enjoy this one at all. Still waiting for the first good comedy of 2013

  2. Good review Mark. This was pretty lame in terms of being a good drama, or even being a good comedy. It hits neither spots well, and just seems like a total missed-opportunity for both Bateman and McCarthy. Let’s hope the rest of the year works out well for them.

  3. I’ve only heard terrible things just reaffirming my decision to stay away from this beast. Glad you agree with the rest. Such a shame too, given the cast, but what can you expect? McCarthy is slowly but surely bloating up as the female Zach Galifinakis. This is her Due Date.

    • Identity Thief is such a bona fide box office smash that I finally relented and went to go see it. Can’t believe it’s already at $80 million. Even expected to return to the #1 position this weekend given the lackluster competition. Ugh! Movie-wise, 2013 is not starting out very strong.

  4. It is a crime to knock off Planes, Trains, and Automobiles!

  5. I know I’m skipping this one. I’d rather watch Planes, Trains and Automobiles when it comes to home video and act like it doesn’t exist. I can’t help but pity you for wasting your time, even if it seems this did have its moments. Great review.

    • What an odd thing to say. I love watching movies so I certainly don’t need your pity.

      • Sorry haha. I’m just a bit biased! I’ve seen the trailers, and even they didn’t make me laugh, so that’s just the beginning of my aversion…then you mention the Planes, Trains and Automobiles in the very first paragraph as being the immensely superior one with a similar story. Again, I’d rather watch Steve Martin tirade at a car rental and John Candy trying to take his coat off while driving.

        I know you’ll laugh at me when you read this, but it may be all rooted from one thing: I’ve never seen any of the two stars’ movies. :/

      • Oh god. I just reread my comment from earlier. Sorry about it! I’d just woken up, but I guess that’s not really an excuse… :/

  6. While I’m a big fan of Jason Bateman, I’m going to be skipping this one. Nice review.

  7. Nice review Mark. You nailed this one bigtime. Typical “Road Comedy” with new circumstances. Dumb subplots, and too much drama. Bateman and McCarthy have moments… but not nearly enough of them. 😦

    • Yup that’s it exactly. It was too concerned with dramatic subplots and not enough with simple comedy. The storyline where thugs were pursuing them was annoying.

  8. Nice review! I like the cast, but I think I’ll skip this one haha.

  9. I really wanted to like this movie. Jason and Melissa are usually two of my favs. Unfortunately only got a few chuckles, but still felt for their characters. T.I and Genesis ‘ characters were not only ridiculous and unnecessary, but badly acted too. 2 1/2 stars.

    • Usually I appreciate a little sentiment in my comedies. The way they tried to tack on a saccharine ending seemed kind of dishonest. It’s a tribute to the two stars’ talent that I accepted most of this ridiculously elaborate story.

  10. I’m sticking to my anything with McCarthy or Kevin James in it to skip it. Same goes for Bateman till we see him in Arrested Development again. Amour proves theirs great script and acting, they prove the reverse.

    • McCarthy is a funny lady. Kevin James too – a funny guy that is. Both seem to choose material that is beneath their talent. McCarthy’s upcoming movie The Heat (with Sandra Bullock no less!) looks positively wretched.

  11. So glad that I haven’t had to suffer through Identity Thief. I’ve heard nothing but terrible things about this film. If Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman are a good comedy duo it’s a shame that they were given such an awful story and script to work with. Maybe they’ll team up again in the future for something better? I recently heard someone say that Jason Bateman needs to get himself a new agent. I’m starting to agree because he hasn’t been making wise choices in terms of parts recently.

    • I guess because the reviews were so bad, I too kind of avoided it at first. It really wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I was led to believe. I laughed but only because of McCarthy. Did you see Horrible Bosses (2011)? Same director. That was quite funny actually and Bateman was good in it too.

  12. Good review! I thought it was gonna be better. Starts very well but turns into a dull road-movie. So boring!! 🙂

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