“I’ve had a real shitty morning and your face looks like a dog’s asshole.”
Free of charge, I have supplied you with the funniest piece of dialogue from Identity Thief. It should be mentioned that this is a throwaway line from Robert Patrick that would probably otherwise go unnoticed, but Identity Thief is so devoid of laughs, this is a gut-buster. What an uneven, miserable experience it is to watch two likable actors fumble their way through an inane story filled with bogus slapstick, cringe-inducing, completely implausible developments, and total moral bankruptcy.
Jason Bateman, who must have been blackmailed into this, plays Sandy Patterson (cue countless lazy jokes about his unisex name). He’s a middle manager-type at a big investment firm seeking out a promotion. When his douchey boss (Favreau) asks him to print out some seven-figure bonus checks for the movers and shakers, Sandy and some of his co-workers decide to start their own firm. It all begins great, but soon Sandy is made aware that he has thousands of dollars in credit card charges, defaulted payments, and his credit score is now in the 200’s. His identity has been stolen by Diana (McCarthy), a true professional whose magic credit card making machine can spit out exact replicas. With his job and family life on the line, Sandy decides to venture down to Florida to apprehend Diana and bring her back to Colorado to own up.
To keep this from being a five-minute movie, screenwriter Craig Mazin has to jump through fiery hoops from hell. Sandy’s a good guy; everyone knows it, yet his boss is just going to can him without letting him investigate the matter? The cops are conveniently worthless, making identity theft actually look like a pretty attractive crime. What criminal wouldn’t run up huge tabs at the bar on someone else’s dime when the cops just juggle who has jurisdiction, say it will be a year before the matter is cleared up, and seem fine with an innocent person’s life being destroyed?
Oh, the actual story. Once Sandy leaves Florida, Identity Thief rapidly devolves into one of the worst road trip movies ever made. It turns out that Diana is flat-out crazy, dressing like an 80’s cartoon character and in general treating everyone like trash. Sandy is way more patient than any human ever would be, dealing with property destruction, throat punches, gangsters, and death-defying accidents without ever just knocking Diana out, cuffing her to the car seat, and driving her back. But that wouldn’t allow for the inevitable phony sentimentality and all-for-naught realization that Diana isn’t the monster we all think. All of the subplots are underdeveloped and unfunny, including a grotesque appearance by Modern Family‘s Eric Stonestreet as a bar patron looking for a three-way with Sandy and Diana. No road trip cliché is left unturned, right down to the snakes by the campfire. Identity Thief is a cinematic shart – a huge mess that’s no fun to clean up.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Length: 112 Minutes
Rating: R for sexual content and language.
Theatrical Release: February 8, 2013
Directed by: Seth Gordon
Written by: Craig Mazin. Story by Jerry Eeten & Mazin.
Cast: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Jon Favreau, Amanda Peet, T.I.