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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Identity Thief | Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Amanda Peet, Robert Patrick | Review

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Identity Thief

Jason Bateman (Horrible Bosses) and Melissa McCarthy are extremely talented comedic actors, but they cannot uplift this dreadful, unfunny comedy that starts off with a good premise but doesn't come close to fulfilling its potential. You can mark this off your list as a waste of time.

She (McCarthy) plays Diana, a credit card scam artist and he (Bateman) is Sandy Bigelow Patterson,  an account manager at a financial firm and loving family man with a pregnant wife (a wasted Amanda Peet) and two young daughters, who becomes her latest victim.  Sandy's world starts to shatter when he falls for Diana's phone scam and winds up giving away his birthdate and social security number so she could steal his identity and use his “unisex” name to shop and enjoy life as she sees fit, all on his dime.

When the cops show up at Sandy's job in Denver to arrest him for illegal activities Diana committed using his identity across the country in Florida, Sandy comes up with a plan asking for one week leave of absence from his job, so he could nab Diana and take her back to Denver to confess in order to clear his  name.  Right off, that makes no sense, since the cops are sent a mug shot of Diana which proves he isn't the guilty party. Instead of doing nothing, it should be the responsibility of the law and not him to go after her.

And so the absurdity begins. What follows is yet another one of those predictable road trips where low brow humor, sexual references, ridiculous shenanigans and interactions come into play.

Sparks fly as soon as the two polar opposites connect. Bateman plays the straight man opposite McCarthy's wacky character and compulsive liar, who is quick to punch any one in the throat that attacks her or respond by other violent means.  Much of the time she is either beating him up or getting on his nerves as they make their way back to Denver. Along the way, Diana meets a fat cowboy at a bar who calls himself Big Chuck (Eric Stonestreet from TV's Modern Family) that she convinces to come to her motel room for a kinky sex romp as Sandy hides in the bathroom. As if she wasn't enough to deal with, there is also a maniacal bounty hunter (Robert Patrick) on their trail and unrelated to him,  two henchman in (Genesis Rodriguez and  Tip “T.I.” Harris, looking more like runway models than dangerous thugs) in hot pursuit, sent by an imprisoned crime boss.

Throw in some car chases, crashes, roll overs, and other life threatening sequences that leave the unlikely duo no worse for wear. How ludicrous can it get? Well, one scene has Diana getting hit straight on by a speeding car, thrown high into the air, and landing without a scratch.  Then at one point, when the pair find themselves stranded in the woods, Sandy gets bitten by a snake that wraps itself around his neck.  Fast forward to the next scene.  Other than two fang marks on his neck, he acts like it never happened.

Directed by Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses) from Craig Mazin and Jerry Eete's poorly written script, the movie drags on in what seems much longer than its 107 minutes. Could that be because it isn't the least bit funny?  Oh yes, eventually we are led to (supposedly) believe that Diana is not really a bad person, but a sympathetic figure we should feel sorry for.  Underneath that cold and manipulative, portly shell of a con artist who commits identify theft and fraud with no regard to the consequences, there is a sweet person with an unfortunate, sad past that forced her into criminal behavior in order to survive. 

Even worse, somehow this whole experience turns into an unlikely (to say the least) bonding between Sandy and Diana as they supposedly learn a thing or two from each other to make them better people. It is enough to make you gag.
Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy deserve so much better than this dud. The only thing left to add, is that “Identify Thief” stole some of my valuable time that I can never get back.



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