The worst hour and 50 minutes I’ve spent in a theatre this year. That’s right folks, Identity Thief is a torturous experience featuring a messy script and a character so annoying and unlikable, she could be compared to Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Plain cringe-worthy.
Director Seth Gordon’s (Horrible Bosses) Identity Thief begins on a cool and fun note as we are introduced to Diana (Melissa McCarthy), who is making a phone call to Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman), claiming that she works for an identity fraud protection company. Diana gets Sandy’s goods including his birth date and social security number, having all the details it takes to steal one’s identity. Pretty scary.
When Sandy begins to receive calls regarding salon appointments in Florida, he brushes the mistake off; but when his credit card is declined at a gas station and the police seek him out for everything between thefts and narcotics, everyone involved figures out his identity was stolen.
Detective Reilly (Morris Chestnut) finds out that the person who stole his identity is in Florida and in fact, a woman, claiming to be Sandy Patterson. With Sandy’s new job on the line, a pregnant wife (Amanda Peet) and two daughters to care for, he decides to go from Denver to the outskirts of Miami to get Diana and bring her into police custody.
Every funny moment in Identity Thief was already shown in the trailer, but that’s not the main problem with the film; it’s the crap screenplay that makes its fine actors look despicable and boring. Our lead character is thief, who ultimately destroys the lives of the people she’s messing with. The story could’ve allowed her character to have good moments and bad ones, but when we meet her, it’s the worst of the worst right off the bat. More than halfway through the film, the screenplay attempts to reconstruct her character into a good person, but by that point she’s completely unredeemable.
Melissa McCarthy is one of the best female comics working in film today and it’s certainly not her fault this film stinks. Heck, I saw her put her heart and soul into this character and it still turned out terrible. As the audience we should be laughing as we watch Diana annoy Sandy, but the character should not be annoying the audience too. Then you have yourself a major problem where people are checking the time and watching people get up and go to the lobby is more fun than what is on the actual screen.
Jason Bateman is basically playing the same character he always has before (i.e. Horrible Bosses, Juno, The Change-Up) which is fine, but it does not work in this script because it makes his character a total bore. His character arc doesn’t make a lick of sense and anyone who has been the victim of identity theft would never be able to relate to any of the things his character does in the film.
Identity Thief could have been a memorable tale on the opposites-end-up-becoming-friends story, but instead its one big chaotic wreck. Melissa McCarthy is amazing and hopefully Hollywood won’t abuse her talents with sloppy films like this one.