From the opening moments of Identity Thief, it’s made very clear how easy it is to steal someone’s identity. If only it was this easy to erase this film from memory, or at least replace it with the identity of a better movie. What starts out as a mildly funny premise, quickly becomes kind of a sad attempt at a road trip movie without deviating from an already existent formula that make this genre of comedy kind of a bore in theaters. There mange to be a few moments of genuine hilarity that bring light to the unfortunate situation that is identity theft, which is in no way a laughing matter.
Identity Thief stars Jason Bateman (Horrible Bosses), who plays a mild mannered father of two with a third on the way. He works hard, and is under appreciated, but a band of his coworkers intend to start their own company, giving him the recognition, and more importantly, the salary he deserves. Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) also stars, but as a worthless criminal with no friends who seeks companionship in the many purchases she hoards in a house that probably isn’t even hers. One of them is the real Sandy Bigelow Patterson, and to give you a hint, Sandy isn’t just a girls name. That point will be beat into your head at least a dozen times throughout the movie. The fake Sandy Patterson goes on a crime spree, and quickly ruins the good name of the real Sandy Patterson. So much so that he loses his new job, and is wanted by the police. Once they figure out he’s been duped, they can’t do anything anyways so it’s up to him to go to Florida and get the conniving con artist.
The simple premise, and even the trailer made it seem as though Identity Thief would have more than a few great laughs. After all, Jason Bateman is great, he’s always funny, and Melissa McCarthy is ready to carry a film on her back to prove that the Bridesmaids hoopla wasn’t just a flash in the pan. All of that potential though is wasted once you realize, pretty quickly, that no one on screen seems to care that they’re in a movie. It’s a shame that the biggest problem is how lazy it is, because it then makes the almost equally big problem of the poor script seem worse than it is. Put it this way, Identity Thief is fully aware of when it’s not being funny. How do you know when that is? Melissa McCarthy will punch someone in the throat for a cheap laugh. That only works once, maybe twice though.
It’s hard to imagine that a comedy starring Jason Bateman could end up being one of the worst comedies of 2013, and it’s just as hard to believe how unfunny Melissa McCarthy can be at times. The best parts of the film are when the two leads are the most emotionally vulnerable, but you shouldn’t feel real actual feelings while watching this movie, that’s clearly not what you signed up for. Never fear though, a punch to the throat is just around the corner if you’re looking for a cheap laugh.