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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Identity Thief Movie Review

How much comedic talent does it take to make identity theft funny? If that sounds like the setup to a bad joke, it is: Seth Gordon's "Identity Thief."

After a series of credit problems culminating in his arrest, Denver financier Sandy Bigelow Patterson (Bateman) learns that his identity has been stolen. Detective Reilly (Morris Chestnut) helpfully discovers who the perp is, but unhelpfully says the crime is out of local hands. Sandy sets out to bring the criminal to justice himself, leaving his home and wife Trish (Amanda Peet), in Colorado for Florida, where he confronts "Sandy Bigelow Patterson," a.k.a. Diana (Melissa McCarthy).

Sandy could have Diana arrested for any number of things aside from identity theft, including assault and carjacking, which he falls victim to immediately. But he needs to get her to Denver where he hopes she'll confess, so he chooses breaking-and-entering, assault, and kidnapping (also, there would be no movie otherwise, which is possibly the one thing that would not have been a crime).

The eventual road trip home together feels longer than it is. A bounty hunter (Robert Patrick) and assassins Julian and Marisol (T.I. and Genesis Rodriguez), add their one-dimensional drama to the journey, during which enough shock-and-awful incidents occur to make anyone ask: "Are we there yet?"


The outrageous McCarthy and straight-man Bateman play off each other well, but their interactions have little chemistry, mostly due to a total disregard for physics. How does a guitar smashed in the face leave no mark? How does someone get up uninjured after being hit by a car? This is the cartoonish universe where "Identity Thief" too often finds itself.

There are quieter moments towards the end where some non-slapstick humor is found, but these are overwhelmed by an abrupt and ham-handed sentimentality. Whether "Identity Thief" is a pleasant or unpleasant distraction, it only serves to distract from the real crime: the theft of two hours from your life.

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