It’s not a satirical spoof like A Haunted House, and it’s not like Movie 43, an unconventional collection of sketches. Identity Thief is the first traditional comedy of the year. Or it tries to be… and like a fat girl chased by a Kenyan, doesn’t get away with it.
Director Seth Gordon, who started off excellently with video game documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters but stumbled with his follow-up romcom Four Christmases, was back on top again just a year and half ago when his last film wasn’t just one of the best comedies of 2011, but also one of the best movies of that year. With Identity Thief, he’s re-proven that little saying about where “what goes up” eventually goes. From Horrible Bosses to just horrible.
With a premise that’s relevant enough to be interesting, Identity Thief falls flat on its face almost immediately. Starring Melissa McCarthy as a con artist and Jason Bateman as her identity theft victim, the film was funny only a few times. I could count how many times on just one of my hands. Like the opposite of Due Date, the movie becomes one of the most boring road trips in history, and ultimately Identity Thief will go down as a considerable disappointment despite being released during studios’ typical dumping grounds.
Although she obviously tries very hard in Identity Thief, Melissa McCarthy, who can be a scene stealer like in her Oscar-nominated breakout performance in Bridesmaids, can’t seize this juicy opportunity to headline a comedy or at least share the spotlight with a seasoned genre vet like Jason Bateman. Identity Thief easily could’ve propelled her further into stardom, but seldom does she do anything worth a smirk.
Unfortunately, this isn’t limited to her. Jason Bateman brings less than he normally does (saving it for the Arrested Development revival, I hope), and so does the supporting cast, which includes John Cho, Jon Favreau, and Amanda Peet. Only Robert Patrick and Eric Stonestreet start to liven up the movie in their small roles, but neither has enough screen time to make a significant impact.
It’s only early February, but Identity Thief is a comedic fraud and is already one of the year’s worst. I had no problem with Melissa McCarthy before this movie, but after watching Identity Thief and the obnoxious trailers for her next starring role, another buddy comedy called The Heat with Sandra Bullock (please retire M.I.A.’s “Bad Girls” already!), I’m sick of her. It’s as if she’s completed the Russell Brand life cycle in half the time. Skip Identity Thief, and if you somehow get stuck watching this crap, skip the post-credits extra, too.
Identity Thief gets 1 out of 5 stars.