Solid comedy road movie with Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman
‘You follow the rules? How’s that workin’ out for you?’ bawls Melissa McCarthy’s shameless criminal when straight-laced accountant Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) catches up with her free-spending ways with his money. Seth Gordon’s follow up to credit-crunch comedy Horrible Bosses hits a considerably sweeter spot by unfolding a similar story of little people striking back against faceless corporations, but with a simpler, more effective focus.
The con only takes a few seconds; the opening scene of Identity Thief sees Bateman’s character unwittingly provide McCarthy’s character with his credit card and social security information over the phone. She renames herself Sandy Patterson, forges a few bank cards, and embarks on a spending and crime spree which immediately leads the police back to her namesake. Although Sandy is able to convince the cops that he’s not responsible for the crimes, the paperwork involved promises to take a year out of his life; unless the male Sandy can apprehend the female Sandy by his own means, which entails bringing her back by force.
Identity Thief boils down to a conventional road movie, with extra obstacles thrown in in the form of two crime bosses (Genesis Rodriguez and rapper TI) and dogged bounty hunter Skiptracer, played by Robert Patrick, spoofing his Terminator 2 role. The laughs aren’t exactly subtle, with Bateman's stoic endurance of an extended motel room sex scene between McCarthy and Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet probably the highlight. But some of the details are more complex than might be anticipated from a raunchy comedy; Sandy’s lack of her own identity is neatly characterized by her collection of differing hand-drawn portraits of herself.
Identity Thief isn’t a great comedy in the class of McCarthy's Bridesmaids, but it’s still a decent one; even if the lack of big laughs in Craig Mazin’s script tells, the cheerfully amoral 'stick-it-to-the-man' message papers over the cracks.
General release from Fri 22 Mar.