Identity Thief


“Identity Thief”, the new comedy starring Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy, is a clumsy comedy that gets trapped up in far-fetched plot, and forgets to be funny for long stretches at a time.

When Sandy Bigelow Patterson (Justin Bateman) falls for a phone scam, he soon finds his identity compromised. Somewhere in Florida, a woman (Melissa McCarthy) is using his name to ring up massive credit card bills, purchase large ticket items like boats and cars, and worst of all, get in trouble with the law and skip out on trial because it’s not her real identity anyways.

Back home, this leaves the real Sandy Bigelow Patterson in debt, in trouble with the police, and worst of all, in trouble with his employer. He’s just landed a coveted new job, and he would hate to see it lost due to this regrettable situation. Unfortunately, the cops are no help at all. Even if the Denver police could get the Florida police to help them, she would be in the Florida system, and thus no help to Patterson’s problems in Colorado.

He’s left with no choice. He has to travel to Florida and bring her back, himself.

Once he arrives in Florida, he finds her right away, but has difficulty getting her to agree to come back with him and explain what she did to his boss so he can at least keep his job. He’s also unable to capture her against her will… the two do battle, but her ruthlessness allows her to triumph over the more polite Sandy Bigelow Patterson. Eventually, however, she’s forced to flee the state due to trouble with local mobsters anyways, so she takes Sandy up on his offer to go to Denver, where unbeknownst to her, he has a sting operation set up to prove his innocence and her guilt.

Once on the road, a combination buddy movie, prisoner escort film, and road movie ensue as the pair is chased by mobsters, a bounty hunter, and the cops. And that’s on top of dealing with each other.

There’s a certain level of comedy involved in the premise, and Melissa McCarthy is definitely funny, although the quantity of her in this film might exceed the recommended dosage. Jason Bateman though is pretty under-utilized here, sadly. He’s relegated to a straight man role… and even though he’s often the foil, this is a more humorless part than most.

Regrettably, there’s a number of things that severely derail this movie. Firstly, it’s totally bogged down in the contrivances of its road movie plot. Once McCarthy agrees to go back with Bateman, they realize they both wont be able to board a plane as Sandy Bigelow Patterson. Which forces them to drive, which starts the clichΓ©d string of obstacles that eventually leads our hero broke, injured, dirty, desperate… you’ve seen this schtick, you know what I’m saying. The obstacles are often really contrived, and not all that humorous. The mobsters magically track them, cars break down at just the wrong time, etc. It got wearisome, for me, looking past all the obvious plot problems.

The most egregious crime that the film commits, though, would border on spoiler territory, so for now I’d just say this. Ultimately this winds up being a soft-hearted comedy, with some significant forrays into dramatic territory. Which, to me, robs the film of time which should be spent on trying to be funny.

It’s certainly not a worst of the year candidate, for me. And, I’m sure there are a number of people who will get more laughs than I did out of it, especially if anyone’s a big Melissa McCarthy fan. There are definitely scattered laughs throughout, but there are also far too many plot contrivances and unbelievable situations for me to forgive.


Daniel Fogarty


27 thoughts on “Identity Thief

  1. Good review Fogs. It seems like a total waste for Bateman and McCarthy who deserve so, so much better and not junk like this. Then again, it isn’t terrible, just not funny or dramatic; two things it tries very hard to succeed at.

    • Yeah, I think the problem lies in the fact that it tries to be both, you know? Pick one or the other. Be funny all the time, all the way through, or just be a drama. Dramedys do not often work well. 😦

      Thanks Dan-o.

  2. My Thoughts: Think “Planes, Trains, And Automobiles” Minus John Candy And Steve Martin. And A Lot More Penis Jokes. Otherwise, YES, A “C” Is Pretty Well Deserved. πŸ™‚
    Nifty Little Write-Up, Dude, Fo SHO.

  3. Hi, Fogs and company:

    What sickens and saddens me, is that this is considered a bread& butter film. Made to generate money. Without a second thought given to writing, plot pacing. Or whether or not the writers should be flogged in a public square.

    Bateman’s humor is low key and human. Very much like Charles Grodin. Perhaps, the roles should have been more low end and middle class and given to Larry the Cable Guy and Bette Midler. At least the jokes would have more relevance and been funnier and overall, better.

    • In that regard – making money? This movie opened to $36 million. That’s amazing. I mean… you almost can’t blame Hollywood, you have to blame audiences… if they’re going to fork over the dough so easily, why kill yourself trying to come up with a solid movie?

      Meanwhile though, LO freaking L to your thought of Larry the Cable Guy and Bette Midler in this movie. That’s… that’s out there. Kind of in a nightmarish way though. πŸ˜€

  4. Pingback: Identity Thief Review: Will Also Steal Your Valuable Time | Rorschach Reviews

  5. I said this somewhere else but the trailers and TV spots for this film pissed me off. They are that annoying and I can’t imagine sitting through the entire film. And then there’s McCarthy who has become a one-trick pony. She’s doing the same thing again in a few months with yet another raunchy comedy. Yawn!

    Great review !

  6. I’m continually losing respect for Melissa McCarthy as she’s becoming the fatter Zach Galiakfnaanakanakais. Due Date was disgustingly bad, and this looks to be too much like that. I feel bad for Bateman, as he really needs to branch out a bit more. Alas, I’ll be waiting for Horrible Bosses 2. Good review. Definitely staying away from it.

    • LOL, yeah, I guess you’re right, this was kind of Due Date-ish. Actually, very Due Date-ish now that I think about it. Very very similar, with the uptight hero needing to get somewhere and the offensive fat companion causing all kinds of grief. LOL

      • My girlfriend watches Gillmore Girls all the time, and McCarthy got her start in that show. If you look back, she was a bit chubby, but not that fat. Now, she’s ballooning into this mass of whatever. Not cool. Nor funny.

  7. I laughed, wait…lemme count how many times…um, ZERO. This just wasn’t funny. and you’re right, Bateman was underutilized. This movie disappointed me…and I wasn’t expecting it to be that great to begin with. not a “worst of the year” but def not great. I scored it lower than you as I was frustrated that Identity Thief took my time away from me.

    good review my friend.

    • Thanks, yeah, its certainly never going to be called a “Comedy Classic” or anything. LOL. I had a couple of chuckles here or there along the way though, so I couldnt totally destroy it, you know?

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