Identity Thief - Review by Stu Coote

I recall watching the Identity Thief trailer and thinking that it would be a complete waste of time. That was until I saw that Seth Gordon was the director. Whilst his only films to date have been Four Holidays and Horrible Bosses, he is responsible for one of my favourite documentaries, The King of Kong. Identity thief has enough moments of real emotion to elevate it above the typical slap stick fare the trailer hinted at, without it being terribly remarkable.

Jason Bateman plays Sandy Patterson, a mild-mannered guy who is the victim of career fraudster Diana, played by Melissa McCarthy. Sandy’s life starts to unravel. His cards are rejected, he’s arrested, fired from his amazing new job and, worse still, the police are unable to do anything about it, unless Sandy can get Diana to confess her crimes. Sandy takes matters into his own hands and travels cross-country to confront Diana. This fated meeting leads to each character learning more about themselves than they could ever have expected.

I would like to start a petition with the sole purpose of getting Jason Bateman to try more challenging roles. Whilst there is nothing wrong with his performance, the character is too similar to everything else he has done of late: the average Joe with biting wit who seems to be above it all. I liken Jason Bateman to Paul Rudd and John Cusack – both fine performers who never really seem to stretch themselves. Outside of George Clooney, Hollywood is starved of strong leading men. I truly believe that Bateman could handle far more meaningful material. Melissa McCarthy, on the other hand, is only at the start of her film career and is quickly showing that she can oscillate between comedy and drama with ease. Perhaps her time on Gilmore Girls is finally starting to pay off. At times she reminds me of Chris Farley, not only because of their physical similarities but because she pours so much energy into her delivery that it borders on the manic. She possesses amazing comedic timing and never seems to rely on her weight to get laughs. McCarthy owns the emotional scenes of the film so much so that you’ve been forgiven for forgetting it’s a disposable comedy. 

The slap stick scenes feel too cheap for what is otherwise a funny movie (if you can excuse the number of jokes made about Sandy being a girl’s name). A crazy sex scene between Diana and a guy she picks up in a bar is needlessly long and overly silly. It’s a tad heavy handed in showing Diana’s intent to make Sandy feel so uncomfortable that he will leave her alone so that she can run away. In a similar during a camping scene the film goes to the well one too many times by using snakes in various gags with little effect.

Seth Gordon’s skill is finding emotional stories with realistic characters. I want to see him tone down the silliness and move towards more dramatic films. Identity Thief is entertaining without being amazing. It will give you some laughs and a few poignant moments but sometimes that’s just not enough to be memorable.


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