News Column

'Identity Thief' Review: Stupid Movie from Stupid idea

Feb. 10, 2013

Michael Smith

In "Identity Thief," Jason Bateman plays a Colorado financial firm employee who finds his identity has been stolen by a woman in Florida. It gets so bad that it appears as if he is committing fraud with his credit card and is also mixed up with a drug cartel. Melissa McCarthy plays the woman, a degenerate, compulsive crook who ruins other people's lives.

If this doesn't sound hilarious yet, just wait: The spin, now that Bateman's character is about to be arrested and lose his job, is that he will go to Florida and bring the woman back to Colorado. She will apologize to his boss and explain everything to him, with the police listening in secretly so that they can arrest her with a confession.

OK, says the boss. Sounds good, says the cop.

Sounds stupid and completely unbelievable if you're an average moviegoer with a brain. It doesn't help that this sounds like the worst excuse in movie history to turn a picture into a road movie.

It doesn't help that there is almost zero chemistry between Bateman and McCarthy, who is so crude here that it's embarrassing how the producers (Bateman is one of them) are trading almost solely on her "Bridesmaids" raunchiness. When you have to carry a movie as one of the leads rather than a supporting character, uncomfortable sex jokes alone won't do it.

"Identity Thief" is a stupid movie based on a stupid idea and featuring only stupid characters, which never works. There has to be at least one main character with a brain to contrast the dopes, and this movie doesn't have one.

'IDENTITY THIEF' Cast: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Jon Favreau, Amanda Peet, John Cho

Theaters: AMC Southroads 20, Cinemark Tulsa, Cinemark Broken Arrow, RiverWalk, Owasso, Eton Square, Sand Springs, Starworld 20

Running time: 1 hour, 51 minutes

Rated: R (sexual content, language) I like dumb fun that grows organically out of ridiculous situations. But dumb is dumb, and as much as Bateman and his filmmaking partners want to make something resembling the classic "Midnight Run," drawing any other comparison between the two movies would be the biggest joke of all.

What makes "Identity Thief" so off-putting is that its comedy is so mean-spirited in addition to being crude. McCarthy is never afraid to laugh at herself, but enough with the fat jokes.

Worse yet is that such a large percentage of the jokes are aimed at the first name of Bateman's character -- Sandy. OK, so now we know why it was easy for a woman to steal his identity. But Bateman's character is the constant butt of jokes for having a "girl's name."

As for the plot, why would Sandy devise such a plan to essentially kidnap the woman? Why would she go through with it? Why would McCarthy accept such a role that asks of her, "Do what you did in 'Bridesmaids,' but be more manic and pathetic before offering a sob story that's supposed to make the audience sympathize with your character." Why?

There is no reason to believe any of it. There is no reason to believe that this movie makes any sense, and by the end it's difficult to even sympathize with Sandy, who like most of us, is finding it tough to make ends meet for his family without financial fraud destroying his life.

From Seth Gordon, the director of "Horrible Bosses" (a lame movie with a few outrageously funny moments), comes a movie about horrible people -- from Robert Patrick's bounty hunter to Jon Favreau's nasty finance firm boss -- with few laughs outside of outrageously stupid moments.

"Identity Thief" succeeds only in stealing a little piece of your soul, along with a few of your brain cells.


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