When it comes down to it, Identity Thief is nothing but a platform for Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy to deliver a comedy performance — something that each of them do well. Very well. When you put them together, the funny just spills off the screen with slapstick and vulgar panache. It’s this — not the actual story — that makes the movie worthwhile.
McCarthy plays Diana, a woman who makes a career out of stealing the identity of unsuspecting schmucks. When she snags the identity of Bateman’s Sandy (the unisexual name being an running joke throughout the movie) and his life starts to crumble because she is posing as him. She spends his money frivolously, ends up getting arrested, and has a bunch of bad people with guns looking for her…and by bad guys I am referring to the mean mugs of T.I. and Genesis Rodriguez (who play two characters that could have been easily excluded from this comedy romp) as well as the greasy & crotchety Robert Patrick (he looks like B.O. smells). In any case, due to some ridiculous legal malarky, Sandy has to goes down to confront Diana in Florida and forces her to come back to Denver with him so that she can straighten his life out. Thus begins a Due Date-esque road trip with what could be 2013’s favorite odd couple.
Automatically, I am set up to have a comedy bias for this movie because director Seth Gordon is responsible for various episodes of Modern Family, Parks and Recreation, and Community. He’s also responsible for Horrible Bosses, which I didn’t love, but showed a specific comedic directorial — which is branded in Identity Thief. There are chunky bits of insults, offensive sex acts, lewd smack talk, lots of physical humor, and, surprisingly, lots of heart. Gordon has a nice hand of presenting all of these in a way that makes you forget about the terrible things these people are doing and actually fall in love with them.
I do have one qualm. Part of me can’t believe that one would actually develop any kind of relationship with someone who steals your identity. There is no way in hell that I would even recognize that person exists. I wouldn’t even ATTEMPT to get to know him or her. I would do bad things to them. Really bad things. Like Zero Dark Thirty-style waterboarding. Plus, I am just an asshole, so that has a lot to do with it. But with Diana and the way McCarthy gave emotion to her (surprisingly, McCarthy gets to really amp up the acting with this character), I may reconsider. Still, I couldn’t get past the fact that Diana screwed Sandy over. I just like to hold a grudge…which, again, explains why I am an asshole.
Nonetheless, I couldn’t think of any two actors to play these two roles than the dude from the The Hogan Family and the Oscar nominee from Gilmore Girls — and they were the movie. Together they made me laugh. They made me feel good inside. I think I love them. They made me actually want to go on a road trip with them…and I hate road trips. Without Bateman and McCarthy, this movie is just a puddle of mediocre humor and Robert Patrick grunting.
Identity Thief opens in theaters today.