Sometimes you see a trailer for a movie and the impression it leaves you with is that that movie is going to be pretty bad. For some reason or another, you end up seeing this movie and, to your delight; the movie turns out to be pretty good. Other times the movie turns out to be as bad as you thought it would be. Finally, there are times when the movie ends up being even worse than you thought it would be. The new comedy, “Identity Thief” falls into this final category.
Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman), a Denver resident, gets the shock of his life. His credit card is declined and, later, after getting arrested, he discovers a woman (Melissa McCarthy) who lives in Florida has stolen his identity. She has racked up thousands of dollars using credit cards in his name and there is a warrant for his arrest for crimes she committed. Besides threatening to destroy his credit and good name, these charges could get him fired as well. The police can’t do anything to help him unless he can bring her back to Denver to face her crimes.
This could be a workable premise for a comedy. Unfortunately, there are almost no laughs at all in “Identity Thief”. Let’s start with Melissa McCarthy’s character, who tells Sandy her real name is Diana. Thankfully there are almost no jokes regarding her being overweight. This is one of the only saving graces about this movie. However, not only is she portraying such a despicable character, but they make her outward appearance to be equally as vile. Sandy often calls her “disgusting” and she is. There is nothing appealing about her character. It’s hard to be on the side of a character you hate. Sometimes Sandy and Diana have physical altercations and you actually want him to hurt her.
“Identity Thief” turns into a road movie that sparks some memories of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” except that movie was actually funny. Some of the jokes are telegraphed that you know what they are going to be before they happen, so they’re not funny when they finally occur. While other jokes are dragged out for everything they’re worth and they are not worth much. To add some drama to this movie, a couple of killers as well as a bounty hunter are on their trail. These characters make little impact on this movie. Even Jason Bateman, who has been doing pretty well for himself lately, does a largely forgettable job here. Sandy Patterson is the very definition of nice guys finish last.
You could argue that, “You shouldn’t take this movie too seriously.” Granted, but that can’t be your excuse for making a bad movie. There are a lot of comedies being made now with a lot of crude humor. The difference between the good ones and the bad ones is that the good ones have stories that interest you along with characters you like. One of the promotional posters for “Identity Thief” is a picture of Jason Bateman with the caption, “Is this the face of a sucker?” If you see that poster in your local theater behind a glass case and you see your reflection, YOU are the sucker if paid to see this movie.
Commercials for “Identity Thief” are really pushing that this movie is from the director of “Horrible Bosses” and the producer of “Ted”. They’re trying to sell you by having you think that, since those were funny movies, this is going to be a funny movie too. It’s not. I didn’t laugh once with the exception of one inside joke about Florida. The audience who got to see this movie in advance in West Palm Beach barely laughed and some people even walked out. If it wasn’t my job to sit through movies like these, I would have walked out too. It is rated R for coarse language throughout, violence, sexual situations and brief nudity.