Yes, it’s stupid. But it stars Jason Bateman, one of the scant few actors currently working who can turn the otherwise throwaway line “The fuck you are” into a genuine laugh.
Recently seen showing his dramatic side in Disconnect, Bateman reunites with Horrible Bosses director Seth Gordon as Sandy Patterson, a Denver family man whose tireless work in accounts processing goes unnoticed and unrewarded by his boss (Jon Favreau, in a cameo every bit as grating as his one in Iron Man 3).
Life goes from sucky to really, really sucky when he learns his credit cards have been maxed out to the tune of several thousand dollars, thanks to his identity being stolen by a Florida woman (Bridesmaids breakout Melissa McCarthy). In a belabored explanation that doesn’t pass the realism sniff test, the authorities won’t do a thing, so Sandy is forced to take a trip to locate the criminal, bring her back to Colorado, and clear his name so he won’t lose his job.
If the culprit weren’t played loud and obnoxious by the brave, fearless McCarthy — or someone like her — the movie would have no excuse to exist. But in the reliable, Hollywood ways of oil-and-water pairings, her purposely ugly crassness crashes head-on with his buttoned-up anal retentiveness. This results in hysteria, right?
Well, no, but Identity Thief does have its moments. Working from a script by Craig Mazin (The Hangover Part III), Gordon tries his mightiest to wring laughs from every situation, from every scene, but they just aren’t there. The cast gamely acts as if they were (although everyone other than Bateman and McCarthy is wasted), and the result radiates enough sunshine, but it’s like you’re stuck inside.
Its biggest trip-up (not in the slapstick sense, although that’s ever-present) is Mazin’s decision to take the third act squarely into schmaltzville. I liked it more when the leads hated one another. —Rod Lott