“Identity Thief” – A comedy that forgot how to comedy…

How did I end up watching “Identity Thief”? I’m not sure I know exactly how that happened, but it sure resembled something of a compromise. I had been planning for a couple of days already to devote last week’s Sunday Morning Cinema Excursion (which was promptly renamed as Bank Holiday Monday Cinema Excursion) either to “Oz – The Great and Powerful” or “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone”. And I have to say I had been leaning towards the latter due to my unresolved childhood attachment to Jim Carrey. Since My Lovely Wife expressed her desire to join me this week, the final decision ended up being more of a collaborative effort with me caving in a little bit. She didn’t quite fancy neither the Sam Raimi’s “Oz…” (I myself wasn’t exactly excited about that one either) nor Jim Carrey’s and Steve Carrell’s comedy, so in order to reach the verdict, we both agreed to like Jason (almost typed ‘Patrick’ there, sheesh) Bateman  and Melissa McCarthy enough to give them a chance to entertain us in “Identity Thief”. I know it didn’t quite garner the best reviews out there, but you only live once, right?


Now, the story is dead simple: A guy called Sandy (Jason Bateman) is your usual every-man you’d find in a big corporation – an underpaid, silently disgruntled middle-aged desk jockey that hates his job but needs it to provide for his growing family, who becomes a victim of identity theft. I guess he didn’t get the memo that you should never ever ever ever disclose any personal data over the phone. As a result, the thief (Melissa McCarthy) takes a bit of an advantage of Sandy’s female-sounding name (It’s unisex!) and drives his credit account into a morbid debt by binge-shopping and drinking herself into a stupor in night clubs. As a result – as you’d probably imagine – Sandy’s life turns into a nightmare and the only way he could bring it back to normal is to go all the way to Florida and find the perpetrator. I don’t fully understand the logical leap that was taken there by the writers, but I can live with that. Let’s just assume for the benefit of the movie that the police in this fantasy world are even more ineffective than in real life – a scary notion indeed. It’s probably best not to ask any uncomfortable questions, as it clearly seems that this part of the script was written at an ungodly hour, or something to that effect.

I think that “Identity Thief” was planned as a road trip-like comedy and managed to stick to the model for the most part. I have to say that there are some good moments where hilarity ensues and they are mostly owed to Melissa McCarthy’s improvised (?) excursions that most likely weren’t meant to look like that. Sadly, those were few and far between and it vastly diminished the comedic factor of “Identity thief”. Bateman’s character was nicely done – laughable, relatable and cute – but I guess he is more of a one-trick pony in that regard. Nevertheless, his character’s ill-placed logic and down-to-earth attitude were fine additions to McCarthy’s comedy here. If you’ve seen “Horrible bosses”, you’d know what I mean here.

Yeah, we don’t live in a perfect world and those scolding reviews had to have had their foundations somewhere. It turns out that “Identity thief” forgets ‘how to comedy’ half way through the film and turns into a soggy feel-good comedy that lasts until the ending credits… well, almost. But anyway, what could have been a decent picture that had ‘stupid’ written all over it, ended up being the manbearpig of comedy. I can’t really tell whether I just watched a no-holds-barred-sweaty-ass-in-your-face comedy, a sloppy feel-good redemption story or an awkward rom-com that forgot to ‘rom’ in its attempt to ‘com’. Uhh…

All in all, “Identity thief” wasn’t a complete disaster, but it didn’t deliver as well. So, I can’t really decide here, because I loved certain parts of it (mainly the first half of the movie that is more comedic than the other). However, the touchy-feely mood that gradually clouded the film was definitely enough to annoy me. In the end, I’m glad I couple-watched it today with My Wife, because had I been on my own there, I don’t know if I could last until the credits rolled. Then again, had I been alone, I would have watched “Burt Wonderstone” instead, which will have to wait a bit.