Seth Gordon (director)
Universal Pictures (studio)
111 mins (length)
22 March 2013 (released)
14 March 2013
Seth Gordon's follow up to Horrible Bosses stars Jason Bateman again in pretty much the same kind of role, acting as straight man to Melissa McCarthy's wacky lady. He becomes a victim of McCarthy's Diana who nabs his identity via innocuous phone call and proceeds to go through his bank account by spending all the cash on frivolous things. Bateman's tragically named Sandy has to hit the road to find her because the Denver PD are not able to for convoluted reasons.
Identity Thief makes huge leaps to justify the premise in the beginning, leaving you either scratching your head at how such ineptitude by the justice system is possible, or making you roll your eyes and agreeing to just go with it for the subsequent scenes of mayhem provided via the traditional staple of comedies: the road trip.
There's an attempt at capturing a Midnight Run vibe with Sandy cuffing Diana as many times as he can amid a turbulent relationship between the two. But of course the longer they spend together the more they come to appreciate each other. An antagonist outside influence heats things up courtesy of Jonathan Banks playing an incarcerated bad guy pissed off with Diana for selling him a batch of dodgy credit cards. His enforcers include a random appearance of rapper T.I.
He's joined by other more established faces such as Jon Cho, and Jon Favreau (seemingly reprising his role from the recent People Like Us) and a grungy looking Robert Patrick. Their presence gives the film a bit of a lift, as the constant penis jokes start to wear thin after a while; the movie relying far too much on cheap gags.
Identity Thief is strangely more effective when it drops the endless sex jokes and aims for drama, while exploring Diana's identity. Why does this woman feel the need to steal another's identity and spend ridiculous amounts of money? McCarthy does a good job selling the conceit behind it all, while Bateman unfortunately is pretty much on auto-pilot, just cashing another cheque in between roles that actually push him or ones he tackles with relish.
The film rolls along from one random encounter to another as Sandy and Diana make their way from Florida to Denver, avoiding bad guys and colliding with strangers who provide Diana chances to either make an escape or humiliate Sandy as retribution. A standout scene features a rendezvous with a cowboy-hat-wearing stranger at a motel who inexplicably shows a sensitive side, and basically any scene involving McCarthy teary-eyed and vulnerable.
If you liked Horrible Bosses, you'll find some laughs with Identity Thief, though I preferred the mean edge of the former to the lighter antics of the latter.