October 4, 2022

We’re all well aware of the cinematic dumpster bin that is generally the case at multiplexes throughout the months of January and February. In this post-awards season time period we come to expect less-than-spectacular trips to the movies. I generally just hope for some good laughs and mindless fun.

Written by Matt

We’re all well aware of the cinematic dumpster bin that is generally the case at multiplexes throughout the months of January and February. In this post-awards season time period we come to expect less-than-spectacular trips to the movies. I generally just hope for some good laughs and mindless fun. This was my mindset heading into Identity Thief, but unfortunately, it couldn’t even meet those very low expectations.

Identity Thief stars Melissa McCarthy as a sneaky, sociopathic, middle-aged, Florida woman who manages to steal Sandy Bigelow-Patterson (Jason Bateman)’s identity. Bateman’s character, who lives in Denver, discovers this and heads to the police. Ignoring all practices that actual police take to thwart crimes of this kind, the Denver cops tell Sandy there’s nothing to do because the thief is in another state (I guess in this universe all states are now autonomous nations with no federal laws in place, but that’s a theory for another article). So Sandy’s only option is to head down to Florida himself and drag the thief back to Colorado by her hair. So begins yet another road trip comedy that feels as long as the actual trip depicted in the film.

The plot is so laced with holes and discrepancies the script resembles a slice of Swiss cheese that got caught in the cross-fire.  As I mentioned before, the whole film is based on the ludicrous premise that there’s no such thing as federal law. As the film progresses, our suspension of disbelief is kicked, punched, beaten and finally spit on by narrative implausibility after narrative implausibility. For example, how can the gangsters pursuing McCarthy’s character continually and miraculously catch up and find them with no evidence of their whereabouts? Or why does a court appointed bounty hunter threaten to burn down a small business? Or why does Sandy’s wife insist on calling him by his full name all the time? I could go on, but I’m getting angry typing these things.

The largest attraction this movie has is its stars Bateman and McCarthy. These two together should be an automatic home run, and they give it their best shot; the few good laughs Identity Thief has come directly from them hamming it up. However, these moments are much too few and far between. Director Seth Gordon was clearly going for a very slapstick style of physical comedy, and it works sometimes, but not nearly often enough to fill an hour and 45 minutes. I’m not trying to be a cynical, stone faced critic when I say the movie wasn’t funny. I joined the entire audience in complete silence for long stretches of the movie. It just really wasn’t funny.

Making the lack of laughs even worse, Identity Thief tries much too hard to create serious, emotional moments between the characters. They’re long, annoying, and completely grind to a halt any last dwindling threads of momentum the movie may have had. I recognize the need to build the plot and provide closure in a comedy, but I need to enjoy it and feel connected with what’s going on. In this case, I just found myself twiddling my thumbs and waiting for it to end.

I wouldn’t say it’s a complete train-wreck of a movie, there are laughs to be had, but they’re too rare to recommend it to anyone. It’s ridiculous story and futile attempts at emotional connections fall completely flat. Bottom line, Identity Thief is just plain boring. I yawned at least twice as much as I laughed, and I cared more about my popcorn than I did what was going on on the screen. The only thing this movie is really good for is an opportunity for a nap, but there are even more entertaining ways to do that.