Identity Thief (2013) – Review

1 1/2 Stars


Identity Thief seems to take place in an odd universe in which violence against women, financial ruin and prizing material goods are considered amusing. It’s a great miscalculation on the part of screenwriter Craig Mazin and director Seth Gordon to assume that because Melissa McCarthy is the lead her selfish and violent behavior will be considered ‘cute’, in reality her one-note comedic styling is beginning to wear thin. Here, she plays a con-artist who assumes other’s identities to afford a shallow existence, that includes buying an entire bar shots, purchasing a new car only to smash it and various other obnoxious purchases. Things are smooth until she steals the identity of the feminine-named Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman), a hard-working accountant struggling to stay atop his burgeoning families’ finances.

Sandy makes an improbable deal with law-enforcement officials that includes traveling to Florida and retrieving the criminal. Because of jurisdictional red-tape, Sandy must complete the assignment solo, and in a week’s time in order to save his job and good credit. This essentially turns Identity Thief into a ‘road movie’, complete with the familiar scene of McCarthy singing every song on the radio, much to the chagrin of Bateman. Mixed up in this hodgepodge comedy is a pair of ethnic bounty hunters looking to collect a large debut from McCarthy, and Robert Patrick as a skip tracer also on the trail.

There is good chemistry between the leads, and Bateman is a pro at the exasperated everyman turned adventurer, a role he has cornered in the last decade. McCarthy is funny, but the mean-spirited character never gives the audience a chance to get behind her and care. In the end its shtick looking for coherence, in a better movie it works, this is not that movie.

Director: Seth Gordon
Stars: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Robert Patrick

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