Movie review: 'Identity Thief'

The Fresno BeeFebruary 7, 2013 

"Identity Thief" is such a gargantuan stinker its stench can't be confined to one theater. Fumigate all you want. A stink this bad lives on forever.

Jason Bateman plays Sandy Patterson, a hot shot accountant on the verge of making the biggest move in his career. He needs to advance because Patterson, his wife (Amanda Peet) and their two daughters live on a very tight budget.

Patterson's life goes into the financial toilet when Diana (Melissa McCarthy) steals his identity and goes on a spending spree.

He's told by a Denver detective -- who apparently works for the laziest police force on the planet -- that the only way to clear his name is for him to bring Diana in and have her confess. Patterson packs a bag and heads to Florida to track down the white collar criminal.

Craig Mazin's script relies on the audience ignoring one absurdity (and not the funny kind) after another.

It starts with how Diana steals Patterson's identity. She's not a super computer hacker; she merely calls him up and asks for his name, birthday and social security number. Patterson's supposed to be an accounting whiz, but he hands over the information without question.

The film's barely held together by the plot gimmick of getting the thief back to Denver. That's why everyone acts like a moron the 50 times during the movie that Patterson could simply call the local police to have Diana arrested for the multiple felonies she's committed -- from her association with drug dealers to causing a near-fatal highway accident. There's a public shoot out, escape from a police car and grand theft along the way -- all ignored to keep this laughless comedy going.

The biggest insult is how the movie flips its position on Diana. She is shown as a miserable lowlife in the beginning, but because of the bond she makes with Patterson, everything's forgiven. There's actually a moment when Patterson says "she's really not a bad person." Yes, she is! And no cutesy moment at the dinner table will change that.

McCarthy continues to make huge mistakes with her film selections. She's shown through her work on the TV shows "Mike & Molly" and "The Gilmore Girls" that she has great skill when it comes to comedy. But the films she picks always have her playing a female version of Jack Black where the comedy is always over-the-top, annoying and painful to watch.

It's insulting that McCarthy has to keep playing roles where comedy comes out of how she looks, her sexual appetite and pratfalls. She should have more comedic respect for herself.

The combination of cheap jokes, idiotic script and uninspired situations makes this the worst cross country road movie since Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis teamed up for the 2010 disaster "Due Date." Compared to "Identity Thief," that clunker now looks like it was written by William Shakespeare.

Someone should steal all of the copies of "Identity Thief." No jury in this land would convict them.


Movie review

"Identity Thief," rated R for sexual content and language. Stars Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Amanda Peet, John Cho. Directed by Seth Gordon. Running time: 1 hour, 51 minutes. Grade: F Theaters and times for this movie | Other movie reviews

TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, rbentley@fresnobee.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.

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