By Ben Popalardo
‘Identity Thief’ tries its best to entertain you. The actors are strong in their roles, the writing is often clever, and the film tries its best to hit some emotional highs and lows between the laughs. Frankly, it doesn’t try hard enough. The movie follows the story of Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman), a simple family man trying to make a living for his family, and not much else. He gets a new job, has a loving wife and two beautiful daughters, all the usual components of a suburban household.
Things change when Diana (Melissa McCarthy), a middle aged woman with a penchant for splurging, steals Sandy’s identity. So, in order to fix everything, the real Sandy is forced to fly to Florida and bring Diana back home to Denver to meet the law. Getting to this point in the movie takes a good amount of time and frankly, that time is spent with very few laughs. The film grew tiring before it even really began. It’s a whole lot of set up with no solid punch line.
It doesn’t help that once the two characters get together, the plot becomes almost entirely unbelievable. From a mob boss who wants his money for an unknown reason, to a judicial bounty hunter out for vengeance. So many elements are thrown into the film that it makes it difficult to tell what sort of movie you’re watching. Car chases, explosions, and gun shots slip half of the movie into the action genre,
while a few too many dramatic points kill the comedic mood the film tries desperately to keep going.
What ‘Identity Thief’ does have going for it are the actors. McCarthy absolutely steals the show. Her performance as the obliviously awkward Diana does wonders to lift the comedic and emotional values of the film. Each line she delivers is expertly done, and she does an amazing job at conveying emotion through her body language.
Bateman acts as the definitive straight man of this odd pair. His character’s quiet anger and disgust coupled with his inability to truly express himself is well conveyed by Bateman’s performance. A few scenes in particular show his ability to break out of his character’s shell as well, such as when he speaks to a fellow pencil pusher as his “boss.”
The supporting characters, while not prominent, do their jobs nicely as well. Few are memorable but they fill in the rest of the movie with a nice bit of flair. The exception of course was Eric Stonestreet of ‘Modern Family’ who had me smiling with his portrayal of “Big Chuck,” a minor character but a good one.
‘Identity Thief’ tries its best to deliver a memorable movie. The actors are the film’s saving grace but they simply did not do enough to save this movie. Its problem is that it tries to deliver on too many things at once. Perhaps I would have felt differently had I had gone into it not knowing what to expect but when all of a movie’s previews focus on the hilarity of the film, then I’m going to expect a full-fledged comedy. Charming as a whole, but not worth the ticket. Wait for it to hit Netflix.