Review: 'Identity Thief' has no charge
This undated publicity image released by Universal Pictures shows director Seth Gordon on the set of "Identity Thief." (AP Photo/Universal Pictures)
It seems ironic that the title of the movie is "Identity Thief" when its co-stars have such a firm grasp on their well-established screen personae.
Melissa McCarthy is the brash wild card with an off-kilter sense of humor and an underlying, slightly dangerous streak. Jason Bateman is the initially bemused but increasingly frustrated straight man whose deadpan quips seem to be the only things that keep him sane.
These two opposites are stuck on a cross-country road trip together but no one's really going anywhere; to borrow from that famous Dennis Green rant when he was still coaching the Arizona Cardinals, "They are who we thought they were." Optimally, with a better script, that wouldn't be such a bad thing. Instead, "Identity Thief" strands these two ordinarily enjoyable comics in the middle of nowhere with no help for miles. "Midnight Run," it is not. It's actually not even "Due Date," which felt similarly strained.
This undated publicity image released by Universal Pictures shows T.I, left, and Genesis Rodriguez in a scene from, "Identity Thief." (AP Photo/Universal Pictures)
It's not just that director Seth Gordon ("Horrible Bosses") and screenwriter Craig Mazin (the reheated "Hangover Part II") confuse meanness for hilarity. There's that, including a weirdly uncomfortable streak of homophobia and/or emasculation. The fact that Bateman's character's name, Sandy, also could belong to a woman becomes a joke that's not funny even once — it's just adolescent, yet it gets hammered into the ground again and again. But eventually and abruptly the film takes a sappy, sentimental turn that's handled rather awkwardly. It comes from nowhere and hasn't been earned.
More fundamentally, though, the premise is just massively flawed. Bateman's mild-mannered accounts processor, Sandy Patterson, discovers that someone has stolen his identity and racked up thousands of dollars in charges when he tries to fill up his tank and has his card denied. They all come from the same place — Winter Park, Fla. — and they started weeks ago. But Sandy lives in Denver.