Road trip comedies have been around for what seems like centuries. They usually have the same format, which is to get from point A to point B (literally), and a few over-the-top obstacles to get through. It does tend to get predictable to tell the truth, so why do they keep on being released? For one, comedies don’t have as much of a high expectation as other films typically have. They don’t have a set bar to achieve, their only goal is to make the audience laugh, and for the most part, they really do. So how does Jason Bateman’s new comedy “Identity Thief” do?
Jason Bateman plays a man with the name Sandy Patterson. Make fun all you want, but he swears it to be a unisex name. Funny girl Melissa McCarthy plays a woman that doesn’t fully know her true name, but primarily goes by Diana for a majority of the film. Diana has an unhealthy obsession with stealing other people’s identities, and committing credit card fraud, and Sandy is her latest victim. When Sandy is offered a vice president position at a new company, his job may be in jeopardy when all of these criminal accusations are thrown his way. Because the police obviously can’t do anything about it for the next six months, he feels an obligation to find her, and bring her in to get his life back.
Obviously, we have a format that we have seen before. Once he finds her and they are in the car together, that’s when the road trip part of the film really begins. Beforehand, it deals a lot with the identity theft, which feels like a new concept for a comedy, which is good. That part of the movie is most important, for it is the foundation for the rest of the film. Not a lot of comedies have the best foundation, and are typically recycled plots from other films, but this felt more original than not.
Of course, with any comedy, we have to talk about the obvious, which is…how funny it is. Melissa McCarthy has been showing up more rapidly in the recent years, bringing an impressive amount of slapstick humor along with her, and she does not let up here. Her character is funny, it’s loveable in its own way, and even dramatic when it needs to be. Her performance is memorable, and very well done. On a separate note, if she doesn’t stop playing the same type of character, she is liable to be categorized as a typecast. Jason Bateman also did a great job supplying the sarcastic humor-side of the movie, which really worked well with McCarthy’s style. These polar opposite characters made the movie what it was, despite any of the predictability that the movie had.
Just because comedies don’t have much of a goal other than to make people laugh, they also restrict themselves from being anything particularly special. Laughing is one thing, but how do you keep people coming back for more? That’s when a writer really needs to think hard on how to make something unique. It’s not needed necessarily for comedies, but when it happens, that is special. This film, however, did not have that unique quality about it. It is good for a one or two time viewing, but beyond that, it may not see the light of day for many movie lovers.
If you are a fan of Bateman or McCarthy, this really is the perfect film for you, because each actor did a splendid job at portraying likeable and funny characters that resemble past performances from them. It’s not as bad as some reviews have made it out to be, that’s for sure. Check it out; “Identity Thief” came to theaters on Feb. 8, 2013.