Mild-mannered businessman Sandy Patterson (Bateman) travels from Denver to Miami to confront the deceptively harmless-looking woman Diana (McCarthy) who has been living it up after stealing Sandy’s identity.
Seth Gordon’s IDENTITY THIEF is a comedy with a very familiar feel. In this post-Hangover, post-Apatow movie world that we live in, we the audience, expect a certain level of bad behaviour, sexual innuendo, profanity and gross out humour to come with US studio product such as this. IDENTITY THIEF delivers on this formula.
The film uses the considerable goodwill the audience has for Melissa McCarthy of BRIDESMAIDS, and television’s MIKE AND MOLLY. The same goes for Jason Bateman whose work on television’s ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT led to his leading roles in comedies such as this one. Gordon’s previous feature comedy HORRIBLE BOSSES (2011) also starred Bateman. So the laughs are in the hands of two capable and seasoned performers.
The script by Craig Maizin and Jerry Eetin suffers from a flat beginning. The movie takes a considerable time to get rolling. This is more or less literally the case because it picks up pace when it turns into a road movie with McCarthy and Bateman’s characters hitting the highway to escape other problems and threats that Diana has stirred up with her larcenous lifestyle.
Bateman’s character Sandy is determined to get McCarthy’s character back to Denver. He wants to remain aloof from her craziness, bad decisions and dishonesty. Diana is an experienced con artist who lives to grift the next sucker she sees. (Grifting is a term we used back in the Depression of ’08, kids.) If you feel this is an alternate take on PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES (1987), then you sir or madam have won a cigar*. (*Note: aforementioned cigar is metaphorical rather than actual.) So what we have on screen is Diana and Sandy clashing head to head as they cross the country in a wobbly line being chased by a number of different parties.
Robert Patrick (THE X FILES, TERMINATOR 2) plays a grizzled bounty hunter. MODERN FAMILY’S Eric Stonestreet does a turn as a good ol’ boy realtor. John Cho, Harold of Harold and Kumar fame plays one of Sandy’s business partners. Amanda Peet plays Sandy’s wife Trish.
IDENTITY THIEF is a competently made entertainment. It is a notch below Gordon’s HORRIBLE BOSSES, but it will amuse fans of McCarthy and Bateman. The preview audience took a while to warm to the film, but was definitely entertained during its 111 minute duration.
IDENTITY THIEF is on Australian screens now. I rated it 5/10