Review: Identity Thief


Jason Bateman. I love his work in Arrested Development, and some of the secondary characters he has played because he can be funny in an almost serious manner. The problem is that he hasn’t changed his style of acting practically ever. It can be good for some actors, but not necessarily him. Once again he’s just brought nothing new to the table.

Identity Thief
Director: Seth Gordon
Rating: R
Release Date: February 8, 2013

On this cross-country fiasco, Diana (Melissa McCarthy) is an identity thief that has complete access to a man with a unisex name’s bank account, Sandy Bigelow Patterson (Jason Bateman). Thus starts her shopping spree and bankrupts Patterson along with stealing his identity. He has the brilliant idea of bringing her back to Colorado where he lives to have her arrested because the local police can’t arrest someone in another state, and probably don’t care enough to do so. Shenanigans occur along the way back, including being hunted down by two criminals, a bounty hunter, and an awful scene occurring in a hotel room which I’ll get to later.

I will just state now that the movie attempts at many times to be funny. A rare few are actually good jokes or pretty decent attempts at slapstick comedy. What makes it fall flat on its face is that there are a couple of jokes that are constantly referenced and added onto one another during several scenes. A particular one is a comment about Patterson’s masculinity which ends up making me cringe more than anything else (I’d say what it is, but it’s not remotely PG material).

Remember that awful hotel room scene I mentioned earlier? It breaks down into a way too long scene where Diana and Big Chuck (Eric Stonestreet) get jiggy with it in front of Patterson while insulting him. Now, I would be fine if it was like 30 seconds to a minute long because the audience would have gotten the point. But it kept going and going while shoving it in your face (thankfully not literally) and becoming less and less funny.

The main focus of the film is Diana and Patterson with some potentially interesting characters. There are two criminals (T.I. and Genesis Rodríguez) that want to kill her because Diana gave them worthless stolen credit cards, and their boss told them to do so. Now I expected some sort of mob type of secondary or tertiary storyline which could have added depth to the story. But what we get is two criminals with guns that are incompetent and have no actual backstory. Then we have the bounty hunter, Skiptracer (Robert Patrick). I actually liked him because he had as much hatred for Diana and Peterson as I did. Plus I like Patrick in general as an actor, so seeing him was quite the nice surprise.

And no, I haven’t skipped talking about McCarthy. Now I will admit that I couldn’t recall ever seeing her in another movie or TV show, so I consider this my first time seeing her act. Overall, she is pretty funny. Whether that’s because of the script writing or not is up for question. She was a nice counterpart to Bateman who is usually a semi-deadpan comedian simply because she was more lively and outgoing. Her character was annoying overall though because she attempts to start a character arc a few times; it ends up falling incredibly short each time. When she finally has one, the movie is basically over and really unsatisfying. But truly, she was typecasted as a big, loud woman. I’ve looked at her filmography; I know she could and probably has done much better than this film.

I wouldn’t necessarily go into great depth regarding cinematography at all for a movie like this, but there is just one point where it becomes such a poor artistic choice that it hurts. Without spoiling any precious plot points, there is a scene where Skiptracker’s van ends up being flipped over by Patterson on the highway. That in itself is fine, but then the choice was made to have there by nearly a full minute of slow motion starting from when the van flips. If it was just for the van flipping, I would have been alright with it (but still unnecessary). It just keeps going with Patterson slowly running towards the wreckage and looking at it. There was absolutely no reason for it, none what so ever.

Not to bash on this movie too badly, but when a comedy makes me cringe, shake my head, and laugh at the failed executions of jokes rather than the actual comedy, then we have a problem. Now as I said before regarding McCarthy, I know that these actors have had better films or television shows which show their talent. This movie, however, will not show off their talents at all.