If it’s a good film featuring Jason Bateman that you want, I’d advise renting Juno or even watching some old Arrested Development episodes because, unfortunately, Identity Thief doesn’t really make the cut.
Bateman plays Sandy Patterson, an honest man trying to make his way up the ladder at his law firm, with a wife and two kids, until one day something goes awry. Cue entrance of Melissa McCarthy’s (Bridesmaids) character Diana, our esteemed and talented identity thief. She systematically destroys Patterson’s finances buying round after round of drinks for everyone at the bar and buying basically anything she wants. Like seven guitars and a new car.
It gets somewhat interesting when Patterson flies to Florida to confront his identity counterpart. What he had planned as a foolproof way to bring Diana back to Colorado and restore his identity turns out to be an odyssey of over-the-top ridiculousness and illegal acts. Turns out Patterson and Diana make a great conman team, and basically steal their way back to Denver.
While this movie could have been a quality comedy feature, it relies too heavily on preposterous incidents for its humor. Slapstick films are riddling Hollywood, and I’ve yet to see anything Melissa McCarthy has done that is beyond the realm of a punch in the face for a laugh. She’s funny, sure. But it only entertains for so long.
The film’s redeeming qualities are, in fact, when the actors are not bumbling around a highway nearly killing themselves in five consecutive scenes. I got a feeling of the characters mostly from their dialogue (sparse and inadequate as it was), or during character developing moments of realization. I’m not saying this movie would have been more successful as a drama, I’m just suggesting that the comedy could certainly have been wittier, and not so obviously obnoxious.
I’m disappointed, to say the least. I like Jason Bateman, and I like Melissa McCarthy (she did so well on Saturday Night Live that I thought she’d kick it up in her films, too), but I guess it’s been too much of the same thing for me, and I’m ready to see her do something else. If I want punch-in-the-face funny, I’ll rent Bridesmaids, where her type of humor is dispersed throughout the film. I’m assigning two and a half stars out of five, because it’s snowing, and I wanted a pick-me-up kinda movie, and I got this.