Director: Seth Gordon
Cast: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Jon Favreau, Amanda Peet, Tip "T.I." Harris, Genesis Rodriguez, Morris Chestnut, John Cho, Robert Patrick, Eric Stonestreet
Release Date: February 8th, 2013
Melisssa McCarthy and Jason Bateman are two talented comedic actors. McCarthy earned an Oscar nod for her noteworthy performance in Bridesmaids (2011) while Jason Bateman revitalized his career on the award-winning show Arrested Development (2003). Both of these actors deserve good material but their latest picture Identity Thief does not qualify. Someone must have stolen the script that these two actors actually deserve because this picture is a degrading and flat comedy with little going for it, pharmacy save for its stars.
The story begins with the energetically-engaging Diana (McCarthy) stealing her prey’s information over the phone. She calls Sandy (Bateman) pretending to inform him that his identity has been stolen. She asks for his information to confirm the theft and within seconds, viagra buy he’s given all of his personal information to the actual thief.
Such a scene aptly sets the stage for a solid comedy. These characters—the high-strung Diana and the easily-agitated Sandy—seem ripe for a funny story that will see them criss-crossing the country together.
Sandy, pharm in an effort to save his job and imprison the thief, heads across the country to find Diana in Florida and bring her to Colorado. Comedic possibilities should ensue but they never do. Instead the story limply flows along hoping to land a punchline once in a while.
As Diana and Sandy take their trip, they are followed by three individuals that Diana– in her endless work as a con artist– has stolen from. Tip “T.I.” Harris, Genesis Rodriguez and Robert Patrick play these utterly useless characters who are simply driven to find Diana at any cost. None of these players, however, are given much to do other than look tough and then make fools of themselves along the way.
Craig Mazin, the film’s screenwriter, has done his cast no favors. When a humorous gag would suffice, Mazin packs his script with obnoxious and condescending jokes about sexual organs and fornication. For instance, a sexual relationship between Diana and Big Chuck (a bearded Eric Stonestreet) simply settles for a crass attempt at humor as Chuck spends much of his time stripping for Sandy after Diana convinces him that Sandy likes to watch. That type of crude and tasteless humor permeates the entire story.
McCarthy, with her funny facial expressions and great charisma, pulls off a neat trick though. Despite her character’s failings, it’s always fun to watch the actress do what she can with the awful script. The character is over-the-top and delightfully outrageous but such traits aren’t enough to save this sinking ship of a film.
The tricky balance that the film fails to pull off though is making her character both a conniving lunatic and a sensitive soul. Even when we see what she’s capable of, we also witness people attacking her. When Diana buys the patrons of a bar drinks, she becomes the belle of the ball but the bartender tells her that people only appreciate her for the money she throws around. Later on, Diana is mocked by make-up employees at a retail store. Those scenes, though, are too obvious and blatant in their attempts to earn our sympathies– especially because Diana spends most of her time trashing other people’s lives.
The story’s greatest asset is its cast, who gamely do what the far-fetched and uneven script says hoping that the laughs will find their way onto the big screen. They never do.
Someone along the line stole all of the humor and quality from Identity Thief. What we’re left with is a dismal comedy that never takes off the ground.
Review by: John Hanlon