Movie Review: “Identity Thief” – Guilty As Charged

Written by Travis Pulchinski February 14, 2013

Melissa McCarthy

You’ve seen the trailers for “Identity Thief” and already dismissed it as just another lazy, run-of-the-mill, ultra-conventional comedy.  But boy could you not be more wrong.  Visionary director Seth Gordon’s latest comedy is an absolute masterpiece of comedic brilliance and eclectic story weaving. Jason Bateman’s radical departure from his familiar “everyman” persona to portray a tortured and broken soul forced into a pact with a madwoman is a spectacular performance matched only by Melissa McCarthy’s hauntingly beautiful interpretation of the soon-to-be iconic character of “Diana”.  I laughed until I cried, and I cried until I laughed.  “Identity Thief” has broken boundaries and transcended into – okay I’m done, it sucks.

What An Unforeseen Turn Of Events 

From the director of the criminally overrated “Horrible Bosses” comes a lazy, run-of-the-mill, ultra-conventional comedy called “Identity Thief”.  The story depicts the plight of “Sandy”, a regular, everyday guy played by Jason Bateman who has his identity stolen by a wild-natured con woman in Florida, putting him under investigation for her rambunctious behaviour committed under his name. Bateman is then permitted to drive to Florida to find and personally arrest the impetuous impostor, because that’s how the legal system works. The two of them then embark on a wacky road trip full of crazy hijinks and bonding moments on their way back to Denver, pursued by vendetta-holding criminals out for revenge.

Film Review Identity Thief

A Case of Mistaken Everything

“Identity Thief” contains approximately two jokes.  1) “Sandy” is a girl’s name.  2) Fat people. Variations on those two HILARIOUS witticisms make up 90% of the “comedic” content of this film which, for a “comedy” movie is incredibly scarce.  Over the course of the overdrawn 112 minute run-time, I heard exactly one bark of laughter from exactly one member of the packed theatre who apparently thought it was hilarious watching Melissa McCarthy attempt to run.  Unlike McCarthy’s rotund character, the writers of this movie clearly did not work up a sweat coming up with any of these gags, as each joke falls flatter than the last. Perplexingly, “Identity Thief” seems to completely stray from comedic set pieces for long stretches, diverging into dull car chases and crime capers.  The inexplicably crammed in subplot featuring criminals chasing McCarthy’s character contributes little to nothing to the narrative and doesn’t come to any kind of closure.  Two teams of crooks played by T.I., Genesis Rodriquez, Robert Patrick and led by a fleeting glimpse of Jonathan Banks of “Breaking Bad”, endlessly pursue Diana, who owes them some ambiguous debt. This cavalcade of inconsequential characters serve solely to move the plot along before eventually being dismissed to inconsequentialness when the main plot approaches its climax.


While the story has innumerable faults, any semblance of entertainment value the film possesses derives from it’s two leads.  With Jason Bateman, you know what you’re getting, and it isn’t bad.  McCarthy on the other hand is a very gifted comedic performer who struggles to give her character some pep despite the lifeless script she has to work with.  While their story arc and relationship is utterly formulaic and predictable, the pair share some chemistry that helps make the slogging story slightly more bearable.

Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy

Better When It Was “The Guilt Trip”

What is there to say about a movie like “Identity Thief”?  We’ve seen it before, a thousand-and-one times.  It’s just another forgettable addition to the heaping trash pile that makes up the massive percentage of modern Hollywood comedies.  It’s someone’s paycheque, nobody’s passion project. We can only hope that there will come a day when films like this are recognized for what they are and stop making the marginal profits that justify their existence.  Until then, we will see many more movies like “Identity Thief”, which ironically, does nothing to stand out from the crowd.

My Rating: 3/10



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