When the trailer for Identity Thief started being shown in theatres, your first reaction was probably, “Man, that’s going to be so bad”. However, you were still hoping that the movie would surprise you and be great. After all, how could you not when it is led by a comedic duo like Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy? Singularly, they have both had wonderful careers in comedy, so there was that small hope that they could pull this slip-stick buddy film off as well.
Unfortunately, the film is a disappointment. While it is entertaining, it is not a movie you would want to watch over and over like director Seth Gordon’s previous film, Horrible Bosses. It does however rely on the same offensive “guy humor” that Bosses uses, but somehow it does not work this time.
The plot is promising. Sandy (Jason Bateman) discovers one morning while pumping gas that his car has been declined. Throughout one hell of a morning, he discovers his identity has been stolen by a woman named Diana (Melissa McCarthy), who just so happens to live half way across the country. The local police can not do anything about it, so Sandy must travel down to Florida to bring in the culprit himself. The plot has the ability to be something great, but the script does not do it justice. It tries to be raunchy, but also wants to be a feel-good movie about friendship. It is hard to decipher which emotions you are supposed to take away from the film.
The casting is also bothersome. McCarthy’s character is being chased by both a drug lord/mafia connection and a bounty hunter (another unnecessary complex plot). Genesis Rodrigues and rapper T.I. are the prior’s lackeys, while Robert Patrick is the grungy old bounty hunter…who may remind you a lot of Darrell from “The Walking Dead”. All three are fine, but nothing spectacular. The thing that is frustrating is that the leader of the villains, who you see communicate with them from prison is named Paolo but is playing by “Breaking Bad”‘s resident old, white man Jonathan Banks. Banks may be the epitome of a badass, but if you need a character to be named Paolo, he is not the right casting decision.
Identity Thief struggles with a lot. It cannot decide where the line is between humor and heartfelt stories, it has weird casting choices, and uses jokes that do not really work in the film. It is hilarious to watch McCarthy get hit in the head with a George Foreman grill, but other than the slapstick routines, the film does not leave you with much. If you are a fan of the leads, see it. However, it might be best just to rent it when it comes out on DVD.