Identity Thief is one those unfortunate movies where 90% of the funny parts can be seen in the previews/trailer. Aside from one slapstick sequence in a rundown hotel involving a horny overweight Midwest cowboy, and a random Jason Bateman cursing outburst, this is a 112 minute dud.
Funny thing is, you may actually want to keep watching this bloated road trip, just to see how fundamental and formulaic it can get.
Now granted, yours truly sees a ton of flicks so it’s fair to assume that this could be construed as just grumpy critic talk. But honestly, as we meet both of our leads within the opening 5-10 minutes, any casual moviegoer can predict how this sucker will turn out.
Therefore, it falls on the writing – specifically the intended comedic sequences – to enable this to be entertaining despite the generic nature of the story arc. Well, let’s just say that the screenwriters should have stolen (plagiarized) the script from Planes, Trains & Automobiles, or, fully ripped-off the Beavis and Butt-Head movie – for a good portion of this plays almost as ridiculous, and not nearly as funny, as the animated latter.
If the above still hasn’t convinced you to stay away, the story revolves around Mr. Vanilla (Jason Bateman), an accountant in Denver, Colorado, who has his identity stolen by the hefty Melissa McCarthy down in Winter Park, Florida. McCarthy is a career life-stealer and has herself quite the shopping spree at the expense of the tight-budget family man. Since the Denver police, led by Morris Chestnut (was he bored or doing someone a favor having a role in this?), are unable to do anything unless McCarthy is in their jurisdiction, Bateman is basically screwed. And that puts his promising new job and providing for his wife (Amanda Peet) and two kids, with another on the way, in dire jeopardy.
So his solution: Fly to Florida and bring her life-stealing-robust-ass back to Denver.
Naturally, things get difficult, for McCarthy resists Bateman’s pleas to try to set things straight. And with McCarthy pretty much pulling these kinds of illegal acts all her life, she’s pissed off the wrong people (T.I. and Genesis Rodriguez) and now has them hot on their random trail, as they venture through a Podunk town in Georgia and along with an extended stop in St. Louis. Even an aging bounty hunter (Robert Patrick) wants piece of McCarthy.
Though there’s a decent cast, which also includes a Jon Favreau and John Cho cameos as Bateman’s bosses, the camera rarely leaves the Bateman/McCarthy mobile (literally). Of course, there are the bonding moments, and quite frankly, those scenes are the only ones that come across with a unique and substantial thought. When the script has a heartbeat flicker, which shows that McCarthy has way more talent than just a physical punch-line as seen in Bridesmaids, it works just fine. But, there are hardly any laughs to be had, and you’re pretty much drained by the time the obvious warming moments resonate.
Overall, Identity Thief needed a hefty dose of inspiration. Melissa McCarthy is hustling to make things hit, and to her credit, nails the emotional stuff. But Bateman, while showing mild chemistry with her, is just doing the same thing he always does; and much like enduring this flick, it’s getting tired.
Identity Thief is rated R and opens in the Tampa Bay market on today.