SYNOPSIS: Mild-mannered businessman Sandy Patterson travels from Denver to Miami to confront the deceptively harmless-looking woman who has been living it up after stealing Sandy's identity.
REVIEW: Seth Gordon, director of big screen Horrible Bosses and Four Christmases and small screen Breaking In, takes another crack at slap-stick comedy with Identity Thief. Reteaming with Jason Bateman, Gordon takes a story by The Hangover Part II writer Craig Mazin and The Watchman writer Jerry Eeten to find out how far a man will go to reclaim his name.
Sandy Bigelow Patterson (Jason Bateman, Horrible Bosses) works for PFG as an internal accounts manager. When he mistakenly gives up his personal information to an identity thief posing as Sandy Bigelow Patterson (Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids), his world is turned upside down with sudden overdrawn credit cards, defaulted payments, and an arrest for a failure to appear in front of a judge in Florida. When the Denver PD detective Reilly (Morris Chestnut, Think Like a Man) shows Sandy a mugshot of the real female culprit, Sandy is still unable to clear his name in time to avert issues at home with his wife Trish (Amanda Peet, 2012) and a lucrative new job he hired on for with boss Daniel Casey (John Cho, Total Recall). Bent on clearing his name, Sandy travels to Florida with the plan to confront and transport the faux Sandy back to Denver to clear his name. But his plans go out the window when the fake sandy, aka Diana, becomes the target of disgruntled criminals Marisol (Genesis Rodrigeuz, The Last Stand) and Julian (Tip 'T.I' Harris, Takers) who were cheated with bad fake credit cards. Sandy talks Diana into traveling on the road with him over staring down the barrel of a gun meant to kill her. But every tank of gas and every swipe of a card get the duo into more danger and more dire situations. Can Sandy clear his name before he has to resort to Diana's criminal methods to get home?
Jason Bateman plays a role that he loves to play. His character Sandy is just trying to make ends meet and provide for his family. Like roles played by the put upon Ben Stiller, Jason Bateman is usually the put upon guy who just can't seem to rise to the occasion to make a better life for himself and his family. But as he tries to do the right thing to reclaim his life, Jason's Sandy is forced to face the fact that the way he's been brought up to provide is not necessarily the only way to deal with things. Couple Bateman's Sandy with the hurricane that is Melissa McCarthy's Diana and there really is no chance for Sandy to come away unscathed. Melissa McCarthy brings her own brand of kinetic and physical humor to her role as Diana as the thief just trying to get by in life in her own way.
But for as much friction Diana causes Sandy, it's not the only conflict with the film. Genesis Rodriguez's Marisol, T.I.'s Julian and Robert Patrick's (Gangster Squad) skiptracer bring even more angst to the already angst-ridden Sandy Bigelow Pattersons. With gun battles, car chases, police intervention and more, Sandy and Diana have much more to contend with than just each other.
The trailers make Identity Thief look like a simple goofball comedy. The laughs in the trailer and commercials aren't the only laughs, but there is more to it the story that just silly comedy. At the center of the story is a drama that goes deeper than just stealing tchotchkes under an assumed name. Melissa McCarthy surprises with her range as an actress, while Jason Bateman reinforces why he is one of the go-to guys for stoic split-second comic timing.
Identity Thief is a silly comedy with a good mix of action, drama, and a touching moral theme. Bateman and McCarthy are a fine team, even if they tend to hit each other over the head with an acoustic guitar or punch each other in the throat. You will chuckle, and maybe feel a little. Just keep a watch on your wallet.
★ ★ ★ out of 5 | DVD or Rental
Rated: R Sexual content and language.
Release Date: February 8, 2013
Runtime: 1 hour 51 minutes
Director: Seth Gordon
Writers: Craig Mazin, Jerry Eeten
Cast: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Jon Favreau, Amanda Peet, T.I., Genesis Rodriguez, Morris Chestnut, John Cho, Robert Patrick, Eric Stonestreet