Thursday, December 19, 2013

Quick Cut Review - "Identity Thief"

Directed by:  Seth Gordon
Starring: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Robert Patrick and Genesis Rodriguez
Rated: R
Runtime: 1 hour 51 minutes  
Release Date: February 8, 2013

Identity Thief was a breakout hit earlier this year, which given the drivel we had shoveled out to us at that time isn't too hard to understand how that happened. But there was another key factor to this equation that launched what likely started out as a very unassuming road trip comedy into a blockbuster hit. That of course is addition of Melissa McCarthy, who has been on a hot streak ever since her appearance in the highly overrated Bridesmaids.

While the film itself isn't horrible or a complete waste of time, it does in fact provide concrete proof that McCarthy is the "it" actress at the moment. Why? Because without her celebrity, most would have written this off as just another screwball buddy comedy that tries way too hard to make us laugh and in doing so becomes even less funny. Aside from the talented and extremely underrated comedic stylings of her costar Jason Bateman, everything in this film screams been-there-done-that.

The only thing separating this film from those countless other road trip movies is its admittedly interesting premise of this low life woman stealing people's identities (a very topical subject matter) and how much harm her careless attitude causes Bateman's character. However, for anyone who has ever been the victim of identity theft (which this reviewer has), it isn't a laughing matter and that is where the film truly falls apart in regards to its numerous attempts at trying to humanize McCarthy's self indulgent and extremely unlikable character.

Bateman's character has all the sympathy in the world and when he finally gets her in custody, what should be a comedy about a guy trying to piece his life together by turning in the evil witch that destroyed it for him while sipping margaritas and going on a shopping spree with his credit cards instead becomes this bonding buddy picture where by the end we are supposed to feel empathy for her character. This situation is as ludicrous as feeling bad for someone who kidnapped your family and held them ransom simply because they had a hard life (or in this case didn't know their real name).

The only minor saving grace for the film is the undeniable chemistry between Bateman and McCarthy who clearly had a fun time while making the film. Plus, its hard not to get a big grin on your face whenever you see McCarthy get ran over by a car, flipped around inside a tumbling van and otherwise beaten to hell. If only the filmmakers didn't try to pull on our heartstrings and make us feel bad for this woman (who subsequently makes Bateman into an identity thief as well), then this would have been a far more enjoyable little film.


While there are certainly both much better and much worse examples of this sort of comedy, it isn't offensive (unless you count its surprisingly dirty mouth) and anyone who is fan of either of its two lead actors will find some mild enjoyment from it every now and then. Unfortunately though there isn't much more to it than that. Perhaps if it had handled the actual story of an identity thief with a bit more weight and truly villainized McCarthy's character, then this would have turned into something a little more unique and worthwhile. As is stands now though, its worth a rent if you are curious.


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