It's another week at the cinema, and there's a wide variety of choices at the multiplex as we head into the weekend. As we all know too well these choices don't always work like they should and even illustrate that they maybe shouldn't have been tried in the first place. On paper "Identity Thief" is the kind of movie that should have worked well enough, but the results were so tired and lazy it borders on insulting.
Directed by Seth Gordon
"Identity Thief" introduces us to mild-mannered businessman and family man Sandy Patterson (Bateman) who learns his identity has been stolen. His credit gets ruined and his dream job to provide for his family is now in jeopardy. So he decides to hit the road in an attempt to clear his good name and foil the thief who is living the high life on his dime, a deceptively harmless-looking woman (McCarthy).
When you have a movie that simply doesn't make a single lick of logical sense from any aspect the first place you go is the script. Written by Craig Mazin whose career credits include "Scary Movie 4" and "The Hangover pt II", this film is an overlong mean spirited spin on "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" mashed together with "Midnight Run" that takes far too long in unfurling a story that is filled with padding. It leans on comedic set ups that don't make any sense, dialogue that is occasionally cruel and filled with jokes that lean far too hard on the insulting premise that... 'It's just funnier, because they are fat'. Instead of wit, we get a mean spirited story that masquerades as sweet and funny and in their own special ways, each character in this film is just a truly horrible person. Director Seth Gordon shoots it all well enough, but a film that would have been barely passable at a length of 90 minutes or under runs for 112 interminable minutes, there was too much that they simply thought was funny and not enough that actually was. It's unfortunate, because given the pedigree of the ensemble cast there could have been a moderately funny movie here.
Bateman and McCarthy actually have great chemistry together on screen and with better material could have made a potent comic duo. Bateman does get a little too much credit for being funny, but he makes a great straight man and is invariably lifted up by the supporting players around him much like in "Arrested Development". However this material just does nothing to highlight any of the actors natural strengths and it just feels like they are both going through the motions. The story wants McCarthy's character to be wild and gonzo yet likable and sympathetic all at the same time, very often at the drop of a hat. These emotional swings are what truly takes us out of the story that doesn't even try to keep us invested in what is going on. There's a solid supporting cast in this with Amanda Peet, John Cho, Robert Patrick, Morris Chesnutt, Eric Stonestreet, Genesis Rodriguez and Jon Favreau, but none of these strong comedic actors are given anything remotely meaningful to do other than to be pointlessly crass or flat out dumb in service of story that is even dumber than its characters as the entire narrative was focused (very poorly so) on Bateman and McCarthy, and in the third act when it all devolves into a half baked story of redemption for McCarthy's sociopathic criminal (who if you believe the film is funnier because she's fat) it just gives up any chance of being entertaining and devolves into nonsensical drivel.
Sadly, there could have been something funny, even on a basic level in the mess that ended up as "Identity Thief", but it just never had a chance to get there as it will produce many more yawns then it will guffaws. Anybody involved in this project just needs to put it in the rear view mirror as quickly as possible.
1 out of 5 stars.
"Identity Thief" is now playing at theatres all across the country; check with your local listings for show times.