‘Identity Thief’ burdened by predictable plot, immaturity
McCarthy keeps otherwise typical road−trip movie fresh
Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 14, 2013 22:02
“Identity Thief” is a raunchy road trip comedy with a simple yet meandering plot that relies heavily on immature humor — and yet, it somehow isn’t actually that awful. Probably because of Melissa McCarthy.
“Identity Thief” begins when mild−mannered Denver−businessman Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) finds out that his identity has been stolen, his credit card is maxed out, he has missed a court date in Orlando and his credit score is now possibly ruined forever. Patterson quickly decides to head to Florida to find the thief himself and take them back to Denver to bring them to justice and fix his life. After some quick sleuthing, Sandy finds out that his identity has been stolen by Diana (Melissa McCarthy), a squat, selfish, manipulating woman.
After a little talking and a lot of hand−to−hand combat, Sandy eventually convinces Diana to drive back to Colorado with him. However, Sandy’s problems are far from over. The film falls into the traditional road−trip movie plot, and Sandy and Diana are forced to persevere through many increasingly ludicrous obstacles, including a large, horny cowboy, dead hobo pants and forest snakes. Really? Giant anacondas live in U.S. pine forests? There are also several bounty hunters who are also after Diana and try to capture her throughout the film for reasons that are never fully explained to the audience.
Thankfully, McCarthy’s performance salvages the lackluster and extremely mediocre plot and actually makes the film watchable and entertaining. Her character takes the jokes that were written in the script and makes them considerably funnier through her superb acting. McCarthy’s character does get a little tiresome at points in the film because she basically single−handedly creates all of the laughs in the movie, but those moments are brief and are more the fault of the script. It is clear that the script was written with McCarthy in mind — “Identity Thief” basically feels like Megan from “Bridesmaids” (2011) got her own movie.
Although it is essentially the same role that he always plays, Jason Bateman also does a fine job as the straight man in the film. Sandy is actually a bit feistier than most of Bateman’s usual characters, which works well for the film. Bateman plays off of McCarthy’s loud humor well, and his character actually fights back a bit against the torture that Diana puts him through. Bateman does well in the film and delivers another one of his classic “average Joe” characters adequately, but his added spunk also makes Sandy a little more three−dimensional.
Director Seth Gordon, who worked with Bateman previously on “Horrible Bosses” (2011), just can’t seem to break out of mediocrity. However, the problems with this film lie primarily with the writer, Craig Mazin. Mazin, who is best known for another crude, predictable, plot−less screenplay — “The Hangover Part II” (2011) — just doesn’t deliver a solid plot or wide variation of jokes. There is only one plotline for the characters, which is to get to Denver, and they are continually thwarted by the ridiculous escapades that befall them. There is little variation to the jokes as well. One could argue that it is just the tone of the film, but it is extremely difficult to sit through two hours — which is too long to begin with — of fast paced, explosions, sex−and−fart−jokes humor.
If you like more highbrow comedies or have a British sense of humor, then don’t go to this movie. Otherwise, though, it is worth a watch if you have a couple of hours to spare and you want to laugh. The whole road−trip−where−everything−goes−wrong movie is kind of cliche, but McCarthy’s performance carries it for most of the movie. Additionally, the generally upbeat tone of the film and endless supply of jokes make it hard to stay upset at Mazin’s lacking plot for too long.