Mild-mannered businessman Sandy Patterson travels from Denver to Miami to confront the deceptively harmless-looking woman who has been living it up after stealing Sandy’s identity.
Directed by: Seth Gordon Rated R, 111 Minutes (yes, really)
You can’t help but merely look at the poster and tiredly think to yourself, “I’ve seen this all before.” Bateman being dry, acidic and pleasingly humourless, the foil-cum-straight man to whichever funny person happens to be ‘de rigueur’ this week.
Here, that person is former Bridesmaid Melissa McCarthy, who since crapping in a sink a while back has been busy both on big screen and small. Taking more of the centre stage here than most of her outings prior to ‘that film’ with Kristen Wiig in it, it would seem that what America apparently really needs more than anything else is a large, funny lady who is comfortable enough with her size to point and laugh at it.
Identity Thief is not a clever title and it delivers exactly what you would expect. A comedy in its loosest terms, this road movie with added throat-punching just about succeeds in keeping you interested. For thirty-five million dollars, you might be entitled to a little more bang for your buck. Hell, even a few more belly laughs would have done. Yet even with two stand out comedy talents in McCarthy and Bateman, Identity Thief falls flat too often. It is neither funny nor original enough to impress in either department and regularly sports overlong scenes that do not punch at the weight required that litter the film with mild disappointment of opportunities squandered.
It does have its moments, of course, and the first act of the film is easily the most enjoyable and imaginative. The preamble to the main plot is an accomplished and intriguing set up which introduces the characters well, but this good feeling, punchy dialogue and general spunkiness doesn’t last. As if feverishly grubbing about in the dirt for inspiration, the second act seems like a hasty filler that just refuses to go away, with questionable scripting and predictable draining stabs at humour which never quite hit the mark. There is the odd one-liner, almost always delivered by McCarthy, and some notable support from Robert Patrick and Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet. Jon Favreau even makes an appearance, giving a short cameo performance that is more interesting than most of what our two stars end up delivering throughout.
The tale of a feisty and enterprising counterfeiter that steals Sandy Bigelow Patterson’s (Bateman) personal details with the intention of using them to create new credit cards and go on a wild spending spree is original, contemporary and of its time. Fear of this type of thing is more rife than its actual execution and if the film does achieve one thing, it is to heighten awareness in comedy form of something that is far from funny for those unlucky (or foolish in this case) to fall victim of it in reality.
The decision to make Bateman’s dour persona travel across the country to apprehend the guilty party is a little tiresome, if we’re honest, and the cross-country adventure that’s promised isn’t really delivered as satisfyingly as we might expect. Ultimately we are left with what is essentially a vehicle for McCarthy to be fat and funny. Not a bad thing, but it’s just not funny enough. We’ve already seen her doing better in both the aforementioned Bridesmaids and in her television show Mike & Molly.
Additionally, one hundred and eleven minutes is just too long for something this lightweight. This could easily (and I really do mean easily) have been snipped to eighty-five minutes, subsequently becoming far less of a burden.
Altogether, not something you will clutch close to your bosom of comedy gold. Forgettable fare that may steal the odd chuckle, but never actually impresses with originality or comedic flair.