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Identity Thief Review

February 8, 2013 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris

Directed By: Seth Gordon
Written By: Craig Mazin and Jerry Eaten
Runtime: 111 minutes
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Sandy Patterson – Jason Bateman
Diana – Melissa McCarthy
Trish Patterson – Amanda Peet
Marisol – Genesis Rodriguez
Julian – T.I.
Daniel Casey – John Cho
Detective Reilly – Morris Chestnut
Skiptracer – Robert Patrick
Harold Cornish – Jon Favreau

Identity Thief I think is a movie that had a lot of potential. It’s the latest from director Seth Gordon who did the breakout hit Horrible Bosses in 2011 and previously directed the clever and cult favorite documentary King of Kong. The stars Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy are both talented comedic performers. Unfortunately, Identity Thief, is a rather disjointed misadventure, comedic road trip romp that doesn’t succeed at what it wants to be.

McCarthy portrays Diana, a professional con artist. At the start of the movie she tricks struggling, blue collar financial processor Sandy Patterson (Bateman) out of his personal information so she can steal his credit card number. Diana ratchets up drink tabs, buys all sorts of crap, and is pretty much a horrible, despicable human being. Diana isn’t all a bad person. It seems she does all this to hide her poor self-esteem and her poor upbringing, but still it’s really hard to like or feel sorry for a character like Diana.

Things get worse for Sandy. He and his wife Trish (Peet) have a third child on the way, and leaves his old job working for his jerk of a boss Harold Cornish (Favreau) to take a better high-paying position for one of his colleagues Daniel (Cho) who has started his own firm. Diana’s antics like her arrest warrants and involvement with drug dealers puts the police in Denver on Sandy’s case. Sandy realizes Diana is the one who has stolen his identity and since the police in Denver can’t do anything about the actions of a woman in Florida unless she’s in Colorado, Sandy makes a deal with Detective Reilly (Chestnut) to bring her to Denver to trick her into taking the wrap for her crimes. Sandy then tracks down Diana, and after some comedic scuffles, convinces her to take a road trip back to Denver to help save his job.

I the biggest problem with Identity Thief is that the basic concept works but once the story gets going it goes completely off the rails. The second and third acts are incomprehensible and fail to make a cohesive plot. Writer Craig Mazin inserts a lot of different scenes from different movies and genres and puts in a lot of random subplots. Sandy and Diana are pursued by drug dealers who Diana sold bad credit cards too. And on top of that, they are also chased by a grungy bounty hunter (Robert Patrick). Then Diana brings Sandy in on her con artist ways by stealing money from Sandy’s old firm. The bosses of Sandy’s old firm are jerky, insensitive, evil, rich one percenters so it’s OK. Even if Sandy’s actions could cause lower paying underlings to get caught in the crossfire and lose their job and ruin their life much like Diana nearly did to Sandy. It is something Sandy or Seth Gordon or Craig Mazin take into consideration.

Things veer off even more when Sandy and Diana have stolen a ton of money, a plan destined for ridiculous failure, and start living it up in St. Louis. Then the story starts to resemble some sort of bizarre romantic comedy. Diana even gets a makeover and goes to have dinner with Sandy which has even Sandy turning his head for Diana’s charms. There is no romantic relationship in the movie between Diana and Sandy, but that’s basically how the scene is played off. Trish isn’t at all concerned about Sandy gallivanting around the country with another woman and going to dinner with her and sharing a hotel room with her, a woman that stole her husband’s identity and potentially ruined their lives. This is probably because that woman looks like Melissa McCarthy. And the way the plot resolves all the conflicts and works everything out is unbelievable. Many of the lingering subplots are lampshaded in the most disappointing fashion imaginable. It’s not surprising writer Craig Mazin also wrote The Hangover Part II, a movie that was similarly disjointed and disappointing.

In terms of direction, Gordon is definitely a talented and able director. He always knows how to insert a good car chase into a comedy. If the script is weak though, he can’t really hide its downsides and run away with the concept.

The 411Identity Thief is a watchable and inoffensive comedy, but the writing is disjointed and the plot is completely incomprehensible in the second and third acts where the movie has no idea what it wants to be. Writer Craig Mazin hasn't really resolved similar flaws he previously showed with The Hangover sequel. The movie is better served for a Netflix or Red Box rental instead of paying full price in theaters.
 
Final Score:  6.0   [ Average ]  legend

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Jeffrey Harris

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