Identity Thief: Flawed Comedy Saved by the Brilliance of Melissa McCarthy
Amazing things can happen when you have two powerful leads paving the way in a film. However, if the script isn’t up to scratch, the same film can often fluctuate erratically between wonderful and horrendous. Directed by Seth Gordon and penned by Craig Mazen, Identity Thief is the latest road-trip comedy to hit the big-screen and although its already worn-out premise might be disconcerting to some, there are plenty of comedy moments to silence cynics.
Sandy Bigelow Patterson (Bateman) is a Colorado accountant who likes to live by the rules. Not known for taking risks, he is extremely undervalued at his position at a big financial firm – run by greedy Harold Cornish (Favreau). But the job offers financial security and allows him to safely provide for his pregnant wife Trish (Peet) and their two little girls. However, when a long-overdue bonus continues to elude him, Sandy changes his tune. He makes a risky decision and accepts a senior position at newly-founded company and his fortunes starts to slowly change for the good.
Unfortunately, all of that goes down the drain when he learns of a woman who has stolen his identity, gained access to his bank account and is living it up in Florida. Sandy quickly begins to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars and he even ends up in a spot of trouble with the police. In order to clear his good name from the supposed misdeeds, and to save his job, Sandy has no choice but to travel down to Florida in order find the woman posing as him and bring her back to Denver to face the music.
Of course, not everything is as easy as it sounds and he soon learns that the larger-than-life, rowdy and highly perverted Diana, aka Sandy, will not go down without a fight – or two, or three.
Firstly, the film does have its share of problems. To begin with, it’s over-plotted and a little lengthy at almost two-hours in running time. Secondly, subplots appear and disappear, just like that with no explanation and no reason as to why they made an appearance in the first place. Yes, at times we feel that we’ve seen these scenes before – in some other, perhaps, better films – and yes, you can see the ending a mile away. But what makes these shortcomings okay and worthy of forgiveness? The answer is simple; the overriding chemistry between the two leads.
They make everything worthwhile and turn the bumpy road into a smooth ride of hilarious back-talk, deadpan sarcasm and the occasional surprise moment of sincere emotion.
Needless to say, McCarthy is the star of the show. Despite a few moments of laugh-inducing vulgarity, she actually shines most in the more subtle scenes. As for Bateman, the king of straight-faced humour takes to his role like a pro.
And so despite its weaknesses, Identity Thief’s solid cast still guarantees a good time for comedy fans.