When Identity Thief first starts rolling, it’s almost perfect, and I was thinking that this was going to be a 4 star movie. However, it can’t decide what type of film it wants to be – a road trip, a “heist” film, a warm and fuzzy family film – and that’s ultimately what drags it down. It’s still a fun ride, but getting there often feels long and tedious.
Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) receives a phone call from a women’s salon in Florida, confirming his appointment for the next day – even though he lives and works in Denver. He soon realizes that someone (Melissa McCarthy) has stolen his identity, and is racking up thousands of dollars in credit card charges. She even got booked for a misdemeanor but skipped out on her court date, and soon the local Denver PD come to arrest Sandy, where he figures all of this out. Worse news still: Sandy has recently started a job with a new financial company, but his boss (Daniel Cho) says that he might have to let him go because his credit is now so bad.
The Denver police say they can’t arrest Diana (McCarthy) unless she was IN Denver, so Sandy proposes an alternative: he will go to Florida and find her, since he knows when her hair appointment is, and bring her back to Denver, saying that he only wants her to talk to her boss. Then, when she’s confessing to him, the police can burst in and arrest her … good plan? Sure, the police say. Sandy takes off to Florida, where he encounters Diana and convinces her to accompany him back to Florida. One problem: they can’t BOTH get on a plane as Sandy Patterson so they must drive back to Colorado.
To say don’t see this movie would be doing Melissa McCarthy a disservice, because she is hilarious in this film. Jason Bateman is good too, and as a comedic team they work well together, but she definitely steals the show. However, after about half of the movie, the film starts to feel a bit long – they could have done this movie in an hour and thirty or an hour and forty-five minutes, in my opinion – and the plot veers every which way. There’s not one but two side plots, including two thugs (Genesis Rodriguez and T.I.) who are looking for Diana because she sold their boss, a drug lord, some used credit cards; once they can’t deliver her, their boss – who is in prison but apparently pays off a guard to let him use his cell phone – hires an independent contractor of sorts for $50,000 to kill Diana.
My other problem with the film is that it’s entirely unrealistic. A man could decide to go track down the thief who stole his identity, but the police wouldn’t support it, you would think. Bateman’s character also sort of becomes friends with McCarthy’s character, and by the end of the film they’re almost BFFs, though I won’t spoil the ending. Bateman’s boss wouldn’t fire him just because his credit rating is bad, even though it’s a financial office; once the police show up, it obviously wasn’t his fault that his credit rating was so low, it was Diana’s. Others have said this film is like Due Date, where you have the one sane character (Bateman) and then a “wild card” character (McCarthy) traveling cross-country, and I would agree with that, although Due Date had a more believable plot.
Despite all this, I’m still giving it a Yes review, solely for McCarthy. Even though the second half of the movie feels way too long, her performance is even funnier than she was in Bridesmaids, in my opinion, and because of that the film is worth seeing. If you go in expecting the plot to not make much sense, and just take the comedy for what it is, you will probably enjoy this movie; even though I was a bit perplexed at the end of it, it still wasn’t a total waste of my time.
Identity Thief is currently in theaters, and is rated R with a runtime of 112 minutes.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5.