REVIEW: Identity Thief

19 03 2013

I walked into “Identity Thief” after having a pretty dismal week.  I knew I wanted to blow off some steam in the form of laughter, and I was willing to sit through just about anything to get that satisfaction.

Thankfully, Melissa McCarthy delivered.  She didn’t do it big time, but she brought enough fun and humor with her improvisational comedy that it gave me the bare minimum of the need I was looking for the movie to fill.  Now, I was hoping it would do a little bit more … but as Osgood would say in “Some Like It Hot,” well, nobody’s perfect.

The movie is enjoyable and fun when McCarthy gets to have free play and improvisation with Jason Bateman, an average joe who gets his identity stolen by her habitual plastic kleptomaniac.  Sadly, his Sandy Patterson and her “Diana” do not get nearly enough of this unstructured time.

They are often reduced to gimmicks and clichés that are beneath McCarthy’s talents for sure.  I don’t mean to suggest Bateman isn’t a capable comedian or actor; indeed, I think he plays an easily identifiable everyman that resonates with a lot of people.  He has excelled in supporting roles in Jason Reitman’s films “Juno” and “Up in the Air,” yet his starring vehicles all seem to totally miss the mark.

From “Couples Retreat” to “Horrible Bosses” to “The Change-Up,” Bateman has yet to prove himself as a capable comedic leading man.  I think this might have something to do with his persona’s defining characteristics of rigidity, though I will admit I have never watched “Arrested Development” – and that might change my opinions on Bateman.

Identity Thief

In other words, “Identity Thief” winds up in a real conundrum.  It needs Bateman to be stubborn and inflexible to make his character work.  Yet it locks the film into a perpetual straight man-comic woman routine that relies on McCarthy to play Diana especially ridiculously to bring the laughs.  She can pull it off, but that’s a lot of weight on her back.

Sadly, the film’s poor writing also leaves her to play a hackneyed emotional storyline of trying to find friendship and companionship amidst her loneliness.  Get it, she has to find her … identity!!  “Identity Thief” sets up the ending in the first five minutes, and it’s obvious.  So attuned viewers will get to sit back and just try to get all the laughs they can out as they wait for the inevitable ending to come to fruition.

You’ll get laughs from McCarthy’s accent and physicality.  You’ll also get them from some unexpected line deliveries and moments of on-the-spot discovery.  You might get a few from a Bateman line or an expression that rings very true.  You’ll get few from the script, and even fewer from T.I. and Genesis Rodriguez as a set of bounty hunters onto Diana.

To be honest, I got my two biggest chuckles from McCarthy getting hit by a panini press … and an unexpected cameo by someone in the cast of a popular AMC television series.  The latter might have been the most, if not the only, inspired thing about “Identity Thief.”  C+2stars


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2 responses

20 03 2013
CMrok93

Not really all that funny, and had me even more bummed out considering I love Bateman in all that he does. McCarthy shows she can be funny, but falls victim to a lame script that doesn’t know what to do with her character, or her skill. Good review man.

4 05 2013
Identity Thief Review: Will Also Steal Your Valuable Time | Rorschach Reviews

[…] Marshall and the Movies: C+ […]

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