Identity Thief Review

Identity Thief reunites Jason Bateman (The Switch, Arrested Development) with director Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses, Four Christmases) for a road trip comedy starring the hugely popular Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids). Identity Theft is a subject that has been pretty downplayed on the big screen so far. Needless to say, when this movie was looking to present such an interesting subject in the form of a comedy, it raised a few brows. Does the duo deliver on laughs concerning the concept or are we looking at another run of the mill comedy that got dumped into theaters without a thought?

Identity Thief

Identity Thief begins with a pretty clever opening that shows Sandy Patterson(Jason Bateman) being called by a woman posing as a credit card insurance person(Melissa McCarthy) who asks for all of Sandy’s personal information so that he can protect his credit rating. Sandy unwittingly hands all of his numbers over to this woman who is actually scamming him. It doesn’t take long for Sandy to realize that all of his credit cards have been maxed out and his name is being thrown around in Florida. After taking a new job, Sandy becomes convinced that he must reclaim his identity to protect his career, reputation, and family. He sets off to Florida to find the thief, but after meeting her he realizes that bringing this woman to justice would be much harder than he imagined.

The movie lays down a pretty interesting premise by giving us Sandy who is the straight edged white collar guy to be a foil for the thief played by Melissa McCarthy who is actually the real star of the movie. Sadly what seems intriguing quickly loses its shine when the movie takes a turn that warps this rather creative premise and essentially turns it into a road trip movie. Once Identity Thief hits this point about a third the way through the film, it throws pretty much every cliché that can be found in any one of the most famous traveling duo movies. Car smashed by truck__Check. Walk through the woods and get attacked by animals__Check. Chased by bounty hunters___Check. The film continues to throw these genre tropes into the story and by the time the movie reaches an end you’ll swear that you should have watched Planes, Trains, and AutomobilesRat Race, Little Miss Sunshine or even Due Date instead of this ambitious yet uninspired comedy.

The movie relies on a tired formula, but luckily Bateman and McCarthy are able to carry what could have been a train wreck and make it something worth a few laughs. McCarthy relies on her typical obnoxious gestures and physical gags which still manages to be funny even when you can see the punch line coming from a mile away. She delivers liveliness and charm to her character who handled by just about anyone else probably would have been totally unlikable and irredeemable by the end of the movie. Jason Bateman also relies on his tried and true every man who is just smart enough to be dangerous. His arrogance and nativity lead to some of the best jokes in the movie as his decisions are always just ill-informed enough to create horrifically hilarious consequences. While these two leads make this movie work the best they can, I can’t help but feel like we are seeing them play it safe by sticking with the same character gags they’ve ran in most of their other popular movies.

Identity Thief has a few jokes that get some laughs, but what had to be one of my favorite references of the movie was one of the bounty hunters who is played by everyone’s favorite T-1000(Robert Patrick). There are 3 bounty hunters chasing down Sandy and the perpetrator, and quite honestly the two that had organized crime connections were less than funny or interesting, but Robert Patrick’s character Skiptracer is far more comical with his overzealous dedication to the bounty and his southern sensibilities.

Seth Gordon’s direction is sometimes felt, but never fully realized. His style which is generally both clever and inventive crops up in the scenes where Sandy is alone with his hostage having below the surface conversations and interactions. Sadly this fresh direction is not around for most of the movie as many of the biggest scenes of the movie feel as if they were borrowed from just about any generic road trip comedy.

Identity Thief is a comedy that has some interesting ideas and plenty of potential, but plays things far too safe with both its formulized story and talented leads. The movie delivers laughs when it has to, but fails to provide any jokes that will be quoted or replayed over and over for fans to memorize. There is little risk in this movie, and there is little payoff other than a few cheap laughs. Identity Thief has indeed stolen the identity of about ten other road trip movies, and what we’re left with is a Frankenstein that is neither exceptionally funny nor remotely inventive.

If you’re looking for a comedy to get you through the current dry spell we’re having in the theaters then maybe Identity Thief is worth a matinee, but if you’re looking for a comedy that will do something new, original, or be flat out hilarious then you may want to wait until later in the year.

identity-thief 2

Story: 4.0

The premise is actually pretty intriguing and full of potential, but sadly the movie ends up relying on the cliches of the roadtrip movies to fill in the blanks which leaves the movie feeling rather uninspired

Character/Acting: 6.0

Both Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy do their best to make this poorly written script, but ultimately they end up rehashing characters and situations they’ve been placed in in far better movies

Presentation: 5.0

Seth Gordon’s direction leaves some nice touches, but ultimately the movie ends up feeling more than a little generic whenever you see the sum of Identity Thief’s parts.

Overall Effectiveness of the Movie: 4.0

This movie is not funny. There are times when jokes are funny, and some of the references are funny, but when it was all said and done I realized that there were times when I didn’t laugh for pretty large chunks of the movie. The leads do their best and the movie tries to be ambitious, but by the time the credits are rolling I was glad to see it finished

Overall Score: 4.5


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