The best thing that we can state in our Identity Thief review is that the chemistry between stars Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman leaves us wanting more movies with those two. Then there is the surprise... it's not the rip-roaring comedy it is painted to be. Although the Identity Thief trailer with its McCarthy-hustling soundtrack may seem to present that fact, it has more heart than hilarity. That is not such a bad thing.
Too many times comedies of the new millennium don't know when to pull back on their funny and risk running into the realm of comedic overkill. Not so here with the McCarthy-Bateman chemistry and Identity Thief as a whole. That is largely due to the screenplay penned by Craig Mazin from a story by Jeery Eeton and Mazin.
There is a humanistic reason why McCarthy's Diana steals identities and rips them blind. The coupling of Mazin and Eaton's story paired with the Bridesmaids quotes master in McCarthy, with her natural ability to garner both laughs and affectionate sighs from her audience, and we have a film that is elevated beyond its enemies become buddies on a road trip movie premise.
Bateman is Sandy Patterson, a professional with a wife, family and mortgage who is on the verge of starting a dream job that will pay him mountains of money more than he is currently earning. Then, his identity is stolen. Sandy's credit cards are frozen as is his bank accounts. As his new boss hears of the situation, he fears the public relations disaster that is having someone who can't handle money working for a firm that deals with money.
If he can personally capture this person running around Florida as Sandy Patterson, Bateman's character can clear his name and keep his promising new job. Unfortunately, he meets McCarthy and you know things will not be going smoothly.
Identity Thief reminds us of Midnight Run in some ways (And while we're on that subject, where's that Midnight Run sequel?). And given the premise of the former film, that is not necessarily a promise fulfilled here.
Yes, McCarthy and Bateman are uncanny together and the supporting cast do their best, especially T.I., Genesis Rodriguez and a Modern Family star who almost steals the movie from McCarthy: Eric Stonestreet. But where the Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin action-comedy played every note beautifully, Identity Thief hits a few minor sour notes.
After an entire film of supporting Bateman in his endeavor to make things right, there's a plot point where he strays from his moral compass and the audience is just supposed to accept it as a necessary evil. Movie Fanatic just doesn't buy that that guy would do what Bateman does.
Also, and this is not the film's fault, but Amanda Peet needs roles with more meat than as the dutiful wife. She shines as Bateman's better half. Yet an entire film with her at the other end of the phone is a missed opportunity. That is made up for, in some ways, towards the end when she and McCarthy share a scene that will have you falling out of your seat with laughter.
See, that's just it. Identity Thief is funny and it will make you think. It is extremely timely with the actual crime dominating headlines and who cannot appreciate a comedy with a heart during such tough times.