Jason Bateman plays an honest, hard-working accountant who gets his identity stolen by the funniest cast member of Bridesmaids, Melissa McCarthy. A road trip is involved as is punching, kicking, projectile vomiting and gunfire – all in the name of Bateman claiming his identity back and bringing McCarthy’s conniving self to justice. So just how many crotches are kicked to achieve this? Find out after the jump.
Sandy Patterson (Bateman) has just been arrested. Earlier that day his credit card had been cut up due to insufficient funds, and a beauty salon in Florida is continuously ringing him regarding his upcoming appointments….appointments that he never made. His identity has just been stolen by Diane (Melissa McCarthy), a compulsive liar and overall unpleasant human being who cheats the system in every way imaginable. We’re made aware of her cheating ways by seeing the large amount of fake I.D’s sitting in her apartment. Sandy has now lost his job and is effectively broke, all thanks to Diane who is running around Florida with his bank details and name. What does Sandy do instead of waiting for the local authorities to take their time in catching her in the act? He travels from Denver to Florida to retrieve her and bring her directly in front of his boss so she can confess what she’s done. Sandy hopes that this will save his job and sort things out with the police so his life can return to normal.
Director Seth Gordon has yet to make a funny comedy. He makes Hollywood comedies such as Four Christmases and Horrible Bosses but they aren’t funny. He relies on the same old formula and tired jokes from cliché scripts in the hopes that the great actors he has on screen will lift the material. When it comes to Identity Thief, you have the same elements at play – an incredibly run of the mill and dull screenplay which is almost nothing more than a copy and paste job, drawn from many, many, MANY other films. The joke here is essentially people getting hit for 2 hours whilst yelling things like “Vagina” and “Ass”.
The real point of difference (and saving grace) for Identity Thief is that Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy HAVE chemistry. They are both funny and you enjoy the time they share on screen. Is that thanks to the director? Not at all, he’s directing all the familiar elements we’re all aware and tired of; but it’s these actors that give us something to work with and enjoy.
Is that to say the film is good? Not in this lifetime. It’s that reliance on cliché that Hollywood has to keep the masses happy that really drags the Identity Thief down… way down. The performances from both leads and supporting cast which includes, Robert Patrick, Amanda Peet, T.I and Eric Stonestreet are better than the movie deserves. It goes to show it’s the performers who make it all work; especially when you consider that the script originally intended for the leads to be two men. It’s even more unfortunate that Hollywood execs and director Seth Gordon still find overweight people yelling “Bitch” and falling over to be a pivotal moment in a comedy.
Anyone seeing Identity Thief for Bateman and McCarthy and who expect few laughs will be fine; but exactly how many people go to a comedy expecting less than three laughs?
P.S Hollywood, STOP WITH THE MUSICAL CUES FOR EVERY SCENE! We know when something’s meant to be funny or sad, we don’t need drums or a piano to tell us otherwise. STOP!
By Chris Elena
Director: Seth Gordon
Writer(s): Craig Mazin, Jerry Eeten
Starring: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Amanda Peet, Robert Patrick, T.I.
Runtime: 111 minutes
Release Date(s): Australia & New Zealand: April 4, 2013; USA: February 8, 2013