It’s funny how a movie called Identity Thief doesn’t seem to have an Identity itself. Is this supposed to be a buddy comedy? A road-trip comedy? An action comedy? It flirts around with different elements that never mesh together in a cohesive manner. When you get down to it, though, this is a comedy. It’s not unheard of when a comedy creates a world that could never exist in reality. I don’t care when it happens, I’ve loved many comedies like that. Identity Thief is very far fetched. The lack of interesting characters and most importantly, jokes, made this to where I was watching my watch more than the movie. The story could have used work too. I don’t know if I’m alone here, but the way this guy get’s his identity stolen is played for laughs. I just felt bad for him. It just didn’t seem like a laughing situation. Especially the way everything plays out.
Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) is a kind and hard working Denver resident whose life is really starting to shape up nicely. Half way across the U.S., Diana (Melissa McCarthy) is living good in Miami with unlimited funds. She can buy whatever she wants, but, there is one hiccup. The ID she’s using to finance everything belongs to Sandy Patterson. This whole fraud situation is putting Sandy’s new job in great jeopardy. Sandy has about a week before his whole life comes crashing down. So, he goes to rack her down. When he finally catches up with her in Miami, he still has to drag her all the way back to Denver. The ride back proves more difficult than originally anticipated. Of course Sandy also has to hear what Diana has to say the whole time. If that were me, I would have seriously contemplated throwing her in the trunk.
Seth Gordon has made two good, not great comedies. Four Christmasses didn’t get much love back in 2008. While not flawless by any stretch of the imagination, I thought it was hated on too much. It was a solid comedy with some good laughs. I could say just that with Horrible Bosses as well. Except for the part on it being hated on; it was well received by most. That one had a lot of flat jokes, but would suddenly have absolutely hilarious parts here and there. Identity Thief is defiantly a step back. I can tell it’s Gordon directing, he hasn’t had his identity stolen or anything like that. However, all aspects of his direction are regressed. The story is crafted in a sloppy manner; nothing is ever focused. Also, the pacing and tone could be an issue. Action and comedy have been mixed in many movies nowadays, this didn’t accomplish the goal. The Bounty Hunter is a poster boy for that mix gone wrong.
The acting is bogged heavily down by the material, but the two leads manage to be decent. Melissa McCarthy has been offered tons and tons of roles after Bridesmaids; rightfully so I might add. I wasn’t a huge fan of Bridesmaids. Still, McCarthy was hilarious. I’ve liked a good amount of projects she’s done lately. Identity Thief seems to either not play on what makes her funny, or suffocate her natural humor with dialog. She gets a decent amount of chuckles throughout regardless. Jason Bateman has similar attributes that Paul Rudd has. He can be extremely likeable (Rudd still has an edge in that department), solid actor, but you can make a serious case that he always plays the same character. When the material falters, so does the performances. Bateman does what he can, that’s not very much. Bateman did have with chemistry with McCarthy. They still couldn’t save thew movie.
Steve Conrad has written very good screenplays in the past, this is the present, though. Here, he presents the biggest problem. I’m not a fan of Conrad, all of his script’s have been poor (plus, not the biggest fan of his style). That is, except one. Conrad wrote The Pursuit of Happyness. This fact caught me off guard. He is capable, but hasn’t produce more than once. Let’s start with the characters. I have the biggest problem with McCarthy’s character. She is written in an almost psychotic manner and unlikeable way. Towards the end they want you to sympathize with her. It was out of the blue and didn’t work at all. Supporting roles seem like an afterthought. Bateman’s is done fine, but cliched.
There are too many instances where nothing happens. Aptow film’s can get away with that, but nothing else has pulled it off – he doesn’t all the time either. You are constantly being introduced to new characters and subplots when they should have focused on the main event. All this becomes convoluted real fast. It’s like if you want to get somewhere fast, but you have to make a million stops along the way that kills the ride. Jokes are pulled off a few times, only do to the lead actors, though. I wouldn’t go as far to say you’ll feel robbed of money and time. It’s borderline. When all is said in done, Identity Thief is a comedy that doesn’t provide enough laughs or a good enough time.