Steal This Movie! Please!
Review by Kelly Laymon
IDENTITY THIEF, released on Friday, February 8, 2013, serves up a familiar formula: the odd couple road trip movie. With an angle for current events, we find stable family man Sandy Bigelow Patterson (Jason Bateman) receiving a phone call from “Diana” (Melissa McCarthy) notifying him that his identity has been compromised and needs all of his information for a LifeLock type of service. However, THAT is “Diana’s” ploy to get the necessary details to create credit cards, a license to drive, etc..
As the real Sandy is preparing to leave his current job to join a start-up by his fellow angry co-workers (and expecting a third child with his wife), Diana-Sandy is on a shopping spree. And drinking spree. And fighting spree. When the police show up at Sandy’s brand new office because he missed his court date (and they see the mug shot), the pieces start falling together. His credit card is then declined at the gas station, and so on. Adding insult to injury is the fact that Sandy works in finance and being trusted with money is key to his ability to keep his brand new job.
Because of stupid jurisdiction rules and regulations, the police won’t take care of the situation. So, Sandy decides to fly down to Florida, catch this criminal, and get her back to Colorado so he can clear his name. On top of pissing off Sandy, she has also run afoul of some black market identity sellers and has a bounty hunter (Robert Patrick) after her.
And, as I always like to say, wackiness and hilarity ensue.
In my THIS IS 40 (2012) review, I described Melissa McCarthy as having a comedy style that beats viewers over the head. That description is even more true in this case. If Melissa McCarthy was in GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (1992), her motto would be, “ABM (Get it? A BM?) – Always Be Mugging if you want the big laughs.” Most of her gags rely on ridiculous physical comedy, whether it’s getting bonked on the head Three Stooges-style or an insane car crash.
By the same token, we have an unusually restrained performance (take that with a grain or two of NaCl) by Eric Stonestreet as one of McCarthy’s sexual conquests. Stonestreet is most popularly known as Cam from MODERN FAMILY (ABC), where he vacillates between over-the-top and slightly less over-the-top.
That’s not to say there aren’t some clever lines. I found most of the humor in Bateman’s dry, sarcastic, slow-burn, which he does so well. Even in lesser fare like IDENTITY THIEF and THE CHANGE-UP (2011), Bateman’s always worth it. However, don’t let the comparisons to MIDNIGHT RUN (1988) and PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES (1987) fool you.
I have a feeling that a person’s enjoyment of this film hinges on how much that person loves Melissa McCarthy. In my case, I enjoyed her in 2011′s BRIDESMAIDS. However, I’d be hard-pressed to come up with much I didn’t enjoy about that film. I’ve only seen a handful of episodes of her TV series, MIKE & MOLLY (CBS), but I’ll give her credit that she does an admirable job with some truly terrible material on that show. In this film, she’s too much. For me, “too much” doesn’t always equal funny.
© Copyright 2013 by Kelly Laymon