From the director of Horrible Bosses comes the latest comedy from Universal Pictures. What would you do if your life was ruined from having your identity stolen? That’s the crisis that Jason Bateman has to face when Melissa McCarthy lives the high life off his good credit in Identity Thief. Is this movie going to be one of the best comedies of the year or should it be bounced like a bad check?
Sandy Bigelow Patterson is a mild mannered guy with an average job at a financial firm in Denver, CO. He’s married with two daughters and another child on the way. He hates his boss, but knows with the economy in the shape that it is, he can’t be picky and is happy to just have a job. Tired of being treated like garbage with no rewards or respect, Sandy and his other co-workers decide to leave the firm and start their own. Sandy has the fantastic opportunity for his family to make a lot more money as the new company’s Vice President.
Meanwhile in Winter Haven, FL, another Sandy Bigelow Patterson is living like a rap star. She buys everyone at the bar top shelf liquor, goes on luxurious shopping sprees and drives a brand new car. After being arrested for a felony assault, she misses her court date to which a federal warrant is placed on her. The woman in Florida is actually a con artist who specializes in assuming another person’s identity. The victim in this case is Sandy from Denver.
Back in Denver, Sandy is pulled over and arrested for skipping the court date in Florida. After pulling up the mug shot, the detective realizes this is a mistake, but unfortunately with jurisdiction issues, his hands are tied. Sandy feeling better about the situation goes to work at his new job only to find that his employment is in jeopardy due to the delinquency of bills and abysmal credit score caused by the identity theft. His boss promises Sandy one week to clear his name or he will have to let him go.
Since the police can’t do anything from Denver, Sandy comes up with the plan to go to Florida and make a citizen’s arrest and bring his impersonator back to Denver to face justice, but it’s not going to be easy. The woman isn’t going to just willingly go without a fight. Can Sandy clear his name and get his life back on this cross country trek all while dealing with the mystery woman, mobster bounty hunters and a hillbilly skip tracer.
To finally get out of January’s mediocre month of movies is refreshing. Identity Thief is one of those comedies to get you warmed up for the summer season. While some parts of the film are generically formulaic, the charm of the film is its unexpected heart and charm. Identity Thief strongly reminded me of a criminal version of Planes, Trains & Automobiles or Tommy Boy.
How I can make that comparison is simple. Jason Bateman as Sandy is the uptight straight man with perfect dry sarcasm just like Steve Martin or David Spade. Melissa McCarthy as Diana is the physical comedian without a language filter just like John Candy and Chris Farley. Just like the two other buddy road movies, Bateman and McCarthy have to try to figure out how to get along without their clashing personalities getting in the way. I thought the two main characters had great chemistry and complimented each other’s performances. Batemen, who also produced the movie, didn’t steer away too much from the roles he typically plays while McCarthy just gets better and better. The one thing I really love about McCarthy is that she makes fun of her size and weight, but not in a cruel way. You can tell that she is comfortable in her skin and she shines on the screen. At one point in her career she was only known as the “fat cousin” of Jenny McCarthy, but now she has proven time and time again that she is a comedy powerhouse.
The rest of the cast is filled with typical supporting roles that are important to the plot, but do not over shadow the main stars. Amanda Peet plays Sandy’s devoted wife. Jon Favreau plays the asshole boss. Tip “T.I.” Harris and Genesis Rodriguez are the mobsters going after Diana for selling their boss bogus credit cards. And Robert Patrick is the redneck skip tracer going after Diana for missing court. There is even a cameo by McCarthy’s real life husband, Ben Falcone. I won’t tell you what part he plays, but if you saw Bridesmaids, he was the Air Marshall that McCarthy had the hots for.
Identity Thief is directed by Seth Gordon. He has directed two of my personal all time favorite documentaries, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters and Freakonomics. But as every tagline, graphic and movie poster wants to promote, Gordon is responsible for one of my favorite comedies of 2011, Horrible Bosses. If you liked Horrible Bosses you’ll really enjoy Identity Thief. Gordon was very careful not to cross the line from comedy to just gross out moments. I also applaud the absence of the dreaded shaky cam.
I really had a great time with Identity Thief and from the reactions of my fellow movie goers, I think they did too. Everyone I talked to at my screener said it was really funny. It may not be a movie you’ll run out on day one to buy it on Blu-ray, but it’s a great time at the theater as a date movie or with a bunch of friends. So if you are a fan of the other movies I mentioned in my review, then I really think you’ll enjoy Identity Thief.
In Theaters: February 8, 2013
Runtime: 111 min
Rating: R (for sexual content and language)
Director: Seth Gordon
Cast: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Jon Favreau, Amanda Peet, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Genesis Rodriguez, Morris Chestnut, John Cho, Robert Patrick, Eric Stonestreet
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Official Site: http://www.identitythiefmovie.com