Movie Review: “Identity Thief”

Published by Clay Cane on Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 7:25 pm.

(Photo: Universal Pictures)

Summary: Sandy Bigelow Patterson (Jason Bateman) hunts down a crafty criminal (Melissa McCarthy) who steals his identity.  The two form an implausible bond.

Review: Melissa McCarthy is a refreshing “It” girl in Hollywood. She is talented, attractive, but not the norm for Tinsletown. However, the Oscar nominee’s shining star is not immune to a bad movie — which is exactly the result in the annoyingly ludicrous Identity Thief.  As most road trip comedies go, McCarthy and Bateman fight, love, fight again and reconcile with eye-rolling clichés.

An audience must suspend disbelief in most comedies, but Identity Thief was wildly illogical — ruining the film’s handful of chuckles. Directed by Seth Gordon and written by Craig Mazin, it’s one of those films where you scratch your head and whisper to the person next to you, “This doesn’t make any sense. Why don’t they just …” fill in the blank.  For example, McCarthy’s thievery crosses state lines — she resides in Florida and Bateman is in Colorado.  Law enforcement (one being the always smooth Morris Chestnut as Detective Riley) cannot pursue her, so Bateman volunteers to go to Florida (leaving his pregnant wife and two kids behind) to abduct McCarthy with handcuffs and bring her back to Colorado where she’ll magically be inspired to confess.

Why not call the credit card company?  Hire a lawyer?  How would abducting someone across state lines be possible or legal? Oh! And Bateman only has one week to complete the impossible task or his boss will fire him for his deteriorating credit rating (he works in the financial industry and somehow he wasn’t intelligent enough to not give his social security number over the phone to McCarthy, who was fishing for victims).  This is just one example of an unfunny jumble of absurdities.

McCarthy stumbles along with stereotypical big girl shenanigans: loud, eating, hyper-sexual and can’t find a man. Bateman plays his usual — all American family man who is shaken up by an edgy sidekick. While the two work well on-screen, the awful script guts out the comedy. T.I. and Morris Chestnut have disposable roles.

A scoop of one-liners, McCarthy’s likability and the polished comedy chops of Jason Bateman cannot save Identity Thief.  Hollywood is in a comedy recession; making a laughable comedy is as hard as making a scary horror movie.

Identity Thief is in theaters now.

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