Identity Thief is one of those movies that promises you a wacky ride, and doesn’t disappoint. That is, if “wacky” to you means low humor, slapstick, blunders, fat jokes, and lots of zany antics. Identity Thief also throws in a menagerie of unresolved side plots and weak dramatics, making me believe the title should be Identity Crisis.
Sandy Bigelow Patterson (Jason Bateman) is a hard working, middle class earner in a corporate world. With a family of four and one on the way, he barely makes enough to keep his head afloat. When an opportunity to make more money by jumping ship from one company to another arises, he readily takes it. Naturally, on his first day, all hell breaks loose. He gets arrested for a crime he didn’t commit in a different state, his credit cards are maxed out, and his credit score is suddenly in the toilet – all of which jeopardize his new position as an accountant. The police are no help, so the only way to bring his identity thief to justice is to bring her in himself.
Here we have Bateman, who is famous for his straight man capabilities; Melissa McCarthy, who really made a comedic name for herself in Bridesmaids; and director Seth Gordon, who has a hit or miss career with Horrible Bosses and Four Christmases. When you mix in screenwriter Steve Conrad, whose dramatic works fair much better than his comedic ones (The Pursuit of Happiness, The Promotion, The Weather Man), it seems like everything just falls apart.
Every attempt Sandy (Bateman) makes in bringing Diana (McCarthy) back to his home state get foiled in some ridiculous way. To make things zanier, Diana has people after her: a skip-tracer (Robert Patrick), and a couple of drug-ring hit men (T.I. and Genesis Rodriguez). It’s just one crazy, off-track side plot after another, bouncing the audience all over the place, trying to instill a bit of anxiety into the film. In reality, the constant barrage of antics is just exhausting and confusing, especially when the side plots end up not having any real meaning or resolution. Also, there are conflicting feelings thrown around about our characters. Sometimes Sandy seems justified in his actions, and other times he seems like a jerk. Sometimes you want to cringe at how awful Diana is, other times she is trying desperately to tug your heartstrings.
The worst thing about seeing a comedy like this is that the comedy itself is what turns you off. There are only so many times you can laugh at a heavy girl for being awkwardly horny, wearing clownish makeup and clothing, and telling strangers stories about Sandy that involve his genitals being mangled. Then there is the slapstick aspect, where the characters are getting punched in the neck and groin constantly, getting hit by cars, etc. Identity Thief just isn’t that funny, and at 108 minutes long, you will be desperate to run out of the theater screaming long before it is over. Save your money, or go see something else. Anything else.
Identity Thief gets 1 “Mimi” out of 5.