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Movie review: Identity Thief
Considering the talented ensemble that appeared in the 2011 comedy Bridesmaids, it was Melissa McCarthy who shined at that particular wedding party. It was the break out role that the Mike & Molly star needed to prove that her style of big laughs could easily translate to the big screen.
The idea of teaming up with another comedic actor – Jason Bateman, who has successfully made the transition from small screen to big himself (and back again with his return to the recently resuscitated Arrested Development) looked like a complete no brainer if ever there was one.
Add to that a director whose last film Horrible Bosses (also starring Bateman) not only did big business at the box office, but also attempted to be far darker in tone than your average Hollywood comedy.
With all three of these elements falling into alignment in the shape of this new comedy, it's surely a jackpot payout? Almost, but not quite the three cherries in a row hoped for.
Whilst at work, Sandy Patterson (Bateman) takes a call from a woman informing him that there was an attempt to steal his identity. Luckily for him, they didn't manage it. To make sure it didn't happen again she was offering a protection service at no extra cost. Thinking that he had a lucky escape, he agrees and gives her the necessary information she requires. What he doesn't know however is that he's just given all his personal details to an actual identity thief.
Not long after, his world starts to crumble. The new job he just accepted suddenly doesn't look very secure at all, with his credit rating plummeting to nothing. With the police involved, he hopes it will be resolved swiftly, but they inform him that there's very little he can do. They do however give him a pic of his identity thief (McCarthy).
Sandy therefore decides to take matters into his own hands, and gets his new boss to give him a week to head down to Florida so he can bring back the thief who stole his identity. Using the details of a payment for a forthcoming beauty treatment, Sandy knows exactly where the thief is going to be.
And he does actually catch up with her, thinking he's got the upper hand on her. His biggest mistake however is underestimating Sandy, as the return journey home, with her by his side, is fraught with danger for the pair of them.
Director Seth Gordon, who cut his directing teeth on the excellent documentary The King of Kong, before moving on to direct features, has chosen another comedy to follow up on his surprise hit Horrible Bosses, also starring Bateman. But the enjoyable darkness of that film has been replaced with more wide appealing fare.
As you would expect, this film's two leads are more than affable. And they would have made good team too, if it wasn't for a rather safe script. Certainly McCarthy has proved previously that she can easily do edgy comedy, but here she's all too fluffy. There's a chance that either Gordon held her back from too much improvising, or just simply didn't know how to handle her. Either way it's the film's loss.
Bateman is on autopilot mode, giving a fine rendition of the everyman, which he has played religiously throughout his career to date. And that's not quite the slur as it might sound, as no-one currently does it better.
But as far as a road trip film is concerned, this is a journey that we've all sadly seen before. The script attempts to be a little darker in places, with the inclusion of bounty hunter Robert Patrick, as well as being chased by two other baddies. These plot points feel convoluted, and don't add anything than a by the numbers car chase or two.
The film also manages in going about as far away from dark as you can, with some really dreary sentimental scenes with family theme. It's not quite The Waltons with car chases, but almost.
There are a small number of laughs along the road, thankfully, but the film as a whole is let down by a script that just doesn't live up to the simple premise. With the talent involved, it should have been far funnier and superior than it is, and that's the real crime.