Identity Thief

Identity Thief
Starring Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy
Directed by Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses)
Rated R for sexual content and language

    Ever since Bridesmaids, Melissa McCarthy has been a hot property for Hollywood.  In her newest tale, she plays an identity thief who takes on the identity of an unsuspecting victim (Jason Bateman) by stealing his credit cards, driver’s license data and in the process ruining his already less than happy existence.  In an attempt to keep from losing his job, Bateman must go to Florida and bring his predator back with him to Colorado in the hopes of clearing his name. 

    You would think that this would be an excellent buddy comedy looking at the talent involved.  McCarthy is a wonderful and believable comedic miscreant and Bateman is one of the best straight men in the business.  The combination of these two should work.  While McCarthy does have some funny moments (most of which can be seen in the trailer), it seems like there was no comedy actually written but rather there was a dependance on McCarthy’s improvisation and personality to bring laughs.  And thus the film isn’t very funny at all.  So if you are in need of stress reducing laughter, you won’t get it here.  If all you need is an occasional chuckle, you’ll probably be satistfied. 

    Part of the reason this occurs is because the film is trying to be too much like Plains, Trains and Automobiles, transferring empathy from the hero to the villain (or at least away from the hero).  That worked for Planes, but here it seems like they are trying too hard, leaving an overall unsatisfactory result. 

    In addition, each and every single little plot point feels completely contrived.  I know for a fact that identity theft is a common crime, but I also know that banks and the authorities are very good at fighting it and at the very least don’t completely ignore it.  The very thought that the police would tell Bateman’s character to go apprehend a criminal and bring her back across the country is absolutely insane.  And that’s the most believable part unfortunately. 

    Where the film somewhat surprises is in turning McCarthy’s character into a victim of society and thus creating the empathy I spoke of earlier.  You do feel sorry for her character, but then again you also know she has to pay big time for her crimes.  And maybe she should serve a little extra time for stealing mine.  C-