Stealing a person’s identity never looked this stupid.
Sandy Bigalow Patterson (Jason Bateman) is just your every day family man with a loving wife and kids. One day, Sandy gets a call from a credit protection agency informing him that he could be at risk of identity theft if he doesn’t sign up for protection. Low and behold, just a few days after signing up for the protection plan, Sandy gets a call from a salon down in Florida about an appointment that was scheduled. He confirms that he never made the appointment and insists that it is just a misunderstanding on the salon’s part. The next day, Sandy stops to get gas where he learns that his card has been declined. After a confrontation with the gas clerk, he decides to call up the credit card company to see what exactly is going on. While on the phone with the credit card company, Sandy gets pulled over by the cops, for whom he assumes are just pulling him over for being on the phone while driving. Unfortunately for Sandy, his luck just got a whole lot worse as he learns that someone down in Winter Park, Florida has stolen his identity. While the cops refuse to do anything about it, Sandy decides to take matters into his own hands as he develops a plan to go down to Florida to catch the identity thief and bring her back to Denver in order to clear his good name.
I will be 100% honest with you when I first saw the trailer for Identity Thief, I simply shook my head and asked myself “Why?” As the film grew closer to its release date, I saw more and more advertisements for the film and while they did look stupid, there were a few things in the ads that I found amusing. I also thought to myself as I made my way into the screening of Identity Thief that there is no way this movie could be any worse than say Movie 43 or A Haunted House and luckily for me it wasn’t, but that isn’t saying much. Identity Thief is a film that has a great premise but suffers from a wide array of flaws. There are so many flaws within the film that I don’t even know where to start whether it be the acting, the script, or the direction. This is one film that is really all over the place.
I think the easiest place to start would be the script which was written by Craig Mazin. Now, Mazin hasn’t had a really great track record with comedic masterpieces since he wrote a few of the Scary Movie sequels as well as the horrific sequel to The Hangover. Now, I will give him and Jerry Eeten a little credit because I did enjoy the idea behind the film, the problem was the execution. This script was all over the place in terms of what it wanted to be. There were so many over the top moments within the film and then out of nowhere, there were moments that wanted to be touching and dramatic. The problem here is that none of those worked but instead felt as if everyone involved was trying too hard to create a sentimental moment. It just felt forced and uninspired. Another problem with the script is that there are too many secondary characters that serve no real purpose at all. There is Marisol (Genesis Rodriguez) and Julian (T.I) as well as Skiptracer (Robert Patrick) and Paolo (Jonathan Banks) who are all about capturing Melissa McCarthy’s character Diana. There only needed to be one maybe two of these characters. And finally, the overall tone of the film, which was so incredibly stupid that I just wanted to scream out loud and say “what the fuck are you doing?” at the screen.
There are seriously moments in this film that just take away from any enjoyable moments of the film because they are just so damn stupid. There are far too many of them to talk about each one in this review but I will address three of which that I found to be the most absurd of the bunch. First, the cops in this film. They refuse to do anything to help Sandy get his identity and life back, but instead allow him to take matters into his own hands and do it alone. The cops never check in on him and Sandy never calls the cops when he is in Florida, Georgia, Saint Louis, or wherever else they stop. Its just plain stupid and there is no explanation for it at all. Next, there is a chase scene where Diana gets kidnapped by Skiptracer and Sandy is chasing them with his rental car. There are a ton of cars on the road and Sandy is trying to get Skiptracer to stop the van. He rams the car into the van which causes it to flip over multiple times and if that isn’t unbelievable enough, Sandy stops the car in the middle of the highway, runs across the highway, talks to Diana for 2-5 minutes and not a single car passes. It isn’t until Diana mentions that the rental car is in perfect condition where it instantly gets hit by a truck. Lastly, there is scene involving Diana and Sandy trying to steal the identity of Sandy’s old boss. This scene is probably the most frustrating since the guy he is trying to steal the identity of is a CEO of a major banking organization with his picture in the database and if that isn’t frustrating enough, the mindless duo then stay in the same city as the bank and at a 5 star hotel. I understand this is a comedy, but please this is just insulting. And to top all those things off, there are so many repeated jokes that occur throughout the film including McCarthy punching people in the throat as well as the fact that Sandy is a girls name.
While there were so many moments that just made me shake my head, I will admit that there were a few times here and there that I laughed. These scenes usually involved Bateman hurting McCarthy. The two scenes that I laughed the hardest at are actually in the marketing campaign for the film. These scenes involved Bateman hitting McCarthy in the head with a guitar as well as a scene where Bateman pretends he is swerving the car to avoid something but instead is doing it so that McCarthy hits her head against the window and shuts up. I honestly found that out of everyone in the cast that Bateman was the most likable and did his best with the source material. I felt bad for him because after watching this, I really felt he deserves better than this. McCarthy does her same old schtick with being really obnoxious and using jokes involving sex, food, and falling down to create laughs. It always seems that she is trying too hard and to be perfectly honest, her character is unlikable at all and is really annoying. In some ways, its almost as annoying as Jill from that awful Adam Sandler film Jack and Jill. As I said earlier, the secondary characters are all useless and I am almost convinced that anytime that Genesis Rodriguez is in a film that its going to suck. Sure, she is easy on the eyes but man the material she gets is awful. Robert Patrick is the only somewhat likable secondary character and even he is pretty useless as a whole. Its just strange seeing him pop up in everything lately.
As for the film’s direction, as I said about the script, its all over the place. I know that Seth Gordon didn’t write the film, however, he didn’t do a good job of making moments in this film work either. There are so many scenes that go on for too long like the awkward and extremely unfunny scene involving McCarthy and Eric Greenstone (Big Chuck in the film). This scene was just way too long and the joke about her being married to Bateman and him not having a cock that worked was just plain retarded. It sadly didn’t stop there as it went into weird sex territory while I was just waiting for the scene to end. It also has to be blamed on Gordon for the lame attempts at trying to get the dramatic elements of this story to work. They didn’t work and by the time the film came to its conclusion, I couldn’t believe how much the film tried to push the “Diana is a good person” message down the audience’s throat.
All in All, Identity Thief is a film that feels as if it is a January release. While the film does produce a few laughs here and there, it doesn’t make up for all the flaws and the overall stupidity of the end product. I really wanted to come out of this film saying that it was a solid comedy, however, I just can’t say that. It isn’t a film that I hated or despised, but instead is more of a film that left me feeling extremely disappointed and as if I lost about half my braincells when watching it. I wouldn’t recommend dishing out any of your hard earned money to see it unless it was a $1 at Redbox but other than that I would wait for cable. I think the only people who will really enjoy this film as a whole are those who absolutely adore McCarthy’s antics and those who like extremely stupid comedies that you can’t even remotely think about.
MovieManMenzel’s rating for Identity Thief is a 4 out of 10.