January 30, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 29°F


Review: Bateman and McCarty thrive in comedy

With a cast and crew that boast an incredible resume of past comedic hits, all signs pointed toward “Identity Thief” being a slam-dunk. In the end, however, the film really only succeeds in its acting. In all other aspects, the movie is simply just mediocre.

The plot of the film is a game of cat and mouse between ordinary family man Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) and Diana (Melissa McCarthy), a criminal who steals his identity. After mistakenly giving away his personal information in a scheme devised by Diana, Sandy must track down the con artist thousands of miles away in Florida. Because of the inefficiency of the police, he then must bring her back to his home state of Colorado in order for her to be prosecuted and for his name to be cleared. After convincing her to come with him under slightly false pretenses, the two begin their return journey home and along the way encounter obstacles, such as pursuant bounty hunters and vicious drug lords.

The film’s cast is its greatest strength, with its two leads shining above all. McCarthy brings the same type of energetic, in-your-face humor to her part as she famously did last year in her Academy Award nominated role in “Bridesmaids.” Bateman’s more straight-face style of humor helps give hilarious contrast to McCarthy and makes them a perfect comedic team. Also of note is Eric Stonestreet, who plays Big Chuck, a man the two meet during their travels. Though having relatively little screen time, Stonestreet manages to heavily contribute to several of the film’s most memorable scenes, such as his provocative sexual escapade with McCarthy that is, by far, the funniest moment in the movie.

Seth Gordon’s direction of the film, however, creates confusion with the inclusion of elements from too many genres, such as action and drama, which, for the most part, fall flat. His action sequences, such as the prolonged car chase, are over the top and seem highly out of place. Likewise, Gordon includes overly emotional scenes that oftentimes come off as unnecessary and seem extrinsic among the film’s other comedic moments.

Also impeding the film is Craig Mazin’s script, which fails to contain enough actual comedy to make the laughs consistent. Though the film does have some instances of brilliant humor, they are typically followed by long dry spells of plain boredom. None of the film’s attempted twists are surprising, because the script possesses a high level of predictability. Throughout the film, Mazin attempts to throw the audience off by revealing the intentions of a character or through a shocking moral revelation. Instead of engaging the viewer, these scenes end up seeming silly and predictably simple.

Touting the all-star comedic duo of McCarthy and Bateman as its leads, “Identity Thief” is just a second-rate vehicle for a superb cast. With an only slightly remarkable script, this film is by no means a “must see” but instead more of a “could see” if nothing better comes up.

2 Stars

Entertaining cast delivers laughs in the anticipated film “Identity Thief.”