Directed by: Seth Gordon
Cast: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Eric Stonestreet, John Cho
Running Time: 1 hrs 52 mins
Release Date: February 8, 2013
PLOT: Sandy Patterson (Bateman) is an average business man whose identity gets stolen by a woman (McCarthy). Now he has to travel from Denver to Florida, bring her back, and save his job.
WHO’S IT FOR? Do you watch everything McCarthy does (including “Mike and Molly”) and find yourself desperate for more no matter what? Than this is for you.
EXPECTATIONS: Bateman playing off of McCarthy in a road trip movie by the guy who did Horrible Bosses sounds like a great idea.
Jason Bateman as Sandy Patterson: He’s a nice guy, family man, and has a great chance to get ahead with his new company. There is no character change needed. None. That’s the biggest flaw here. We’re supposed to think when Sandy and Diana pair up, that Diana can help change Sandy (while Sandy gets through to Diana). It’s not needed. Also, at times Bateman is stuck being a character who will frustrate you with his lack of effort. Just drive home faster!
Melissa McCarthy as Diana: Yes, McCarthy is funny in Bridesmaids and when she hosted “Saturday Night Live.” She was less funny in This is 40. Here, at first she seems like a proper train wreck, but then it becomes obvious Diana is not a fully fleshed out character. She’s crazy, she’s sad, she’s sympathetic, she’s misunderstood, and she’s scary. Then at times, she’s just McCarthy trying to be funny. Yes, this full-figured actress is a comedic force who uses her size really well for laughs (at times). This just isn’t the best showcase of her talents.
Eric Stonestreet as Big Chuck: It takes you a second to recognize Stonestreet (Cameron from “Modern Family”). Once you do, you realize you’re stuck with uncomfortable humor centered around the idea that it’s gross to see Big Chuck and Diana make out, and possibly involve Sandy in the act. Having him appear later, with some racist tendencies, deflates the sympathy that Identity Thief tries to create about Big Chuck’s backstory.
Rest of Cast: Jon Favreau, Amanda Peet, T.I., Genesis Rodriguez, Morris Chestnut, Robert Patrick and John Cho round out the rest of the cast. Patrick, T.I. and Rodriguez are the extra villains (the only bad guy the film needs is Diana) that simply eat up minutes on the screen. Peet is the wife who loves Sandy exactly the way he is, plus her interactions with Diana would only lead her to keep her children far away. Favreau, Chestnut and Cho don’t to anything to raise the level of the film, comedically or dramatically.
TALKING: The comedy that isn’t physical comes from the outlandish lies that Diana is willing and able to quickly spout. My favorite scene (see below) is actually when Sandy starts playing that game. The morals (if there are any) is that you should care about people, even people who seem like they do not deserve it at first, because maybe something bad happened to them before you knew them.
SIGHTS: McCarthy is great at punching guys in the neck, and there’s one good fight between Diana and Sandy. There’s also some good stuff with her being awful at running away from Sandy. There are two uses of slow motion from Sandy’s perspective that are meant to be very dramatic, very serious, but are eventually played for gags. Both fail big time for me.
SOUNDS: You know how every road trip movie has classic radio moments? For some reason Identity Thief wanted to speed through them in 20 seconds. There’s one rapid fire signing session from Diana which includes “Milkshake” and “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles).” It’s nothing special, which is the same for the rest of the soundtrack.
BEST SCENE: Sandy gets a backbone while he and Diana check in to a motel. He finally starts to verbally fight back against Diana’s lies.
ENDING: Even the very end doesn’t make sense. We once again see Diana’s rage issue when kids are around, and somehow the other adults just look on. It’s the attempt at a joke while betraying characters. More importantly, it’s not funny.
QUESTIONS: Why add the bad guys and guns? I felt like there could be a good movie without all of the potential death nonsense.
REWATCHABILITY: I might leave on the first 45 minutes if I ever come across it on TV, but otherwise, no, it’s not going to happen.
Identity Thief feels like a sequel in the worst way possible. They must have been thinking, “We’ve got to go bigger! People have already seen this before, let’s add a snake and guns!” Unfortunately all of the big moments feel totally uninspired. Sure, we’ve seen road trip movies before, but not with these two actors (Bateman and McCarthy). It feels like having them stuck in a car, with one desperate to get back home, would have been enough. The extra layer of evil characters, which don’t even play into the final outcome, are a complete waste of time.
Instead of this feeling like a different version of the brilliant Planes, Trains and Automobiles, it feels like Due Date. On paper it’s a good comedic pairing, but that’s it. About 45 minutes into the film, I realized I was trying to laugh, instead of the film making me laugh. For a comedy, there is nothing worse than feeling stuck. That’s exactly what happens with this film when they seem to be desperate to get off the road and have adventures, like getting stuck in the woods with a snake bite that truly goes nowhere. There’s also the time when they have a day of fun at a fancy hotel, even though Sandy should be getting home at all costs, as quickly as possible.
Identity Thief is a waste of comedic talent, stealing almost two hours away from its audience.
FINAL SCORE: 4/10