Director: Seth Gordon.
Cast: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Amanda Peet, Robert Patrick, Eric Stonestreet.
A BUTTONED down, straight laced man with a run of bad luck is forced to go on a cross-country journey with an annoying oaf. Sound familiar?
Maybe you watched it two or three years ago when it was called Due Date and starred Robert Downey Jr and Zach Galifianakis. Or maybe it was back in the ‘80s when it was called Planes, Trains And Automobiles.
Both of those films are much better than the similarly plotted Identity Thief, which also borrows from the excellent 1988 bounty hunter comedy Midnight Run.
When the plot feels like you’ve seen it three times before, and done better on each of those occasions, the movie better have something else going for it. Identity Thief doesn’t.
Bateman is Sandy Patterson, the white-collar, by-the-rules family man whose identity is stolen by conwoman Diana (McCarthy).
With his finances in ruins, his job on the line, a third baby on the way and the cops proving to be unhelpful, Sandy is forced to fly to Florida and bring Diana back to Colorado, which is apparently the only way he’s going to get any justice and save his career.
Giant slabs of the plot don’t add up and the script has to work too hard to keep Sandy and Diana not only on the road, but also pursued by two violent criminals (played by rapper TI and Genesis Rodriguez) and a psychotic bounty hunter (Patrick). Even putting Sandy in the situation of having to retrieve Diana himself doesn’t seem to make much sense.
But not making sense is a consistent theme in this movie. Diana has countless opportunities to get away from Sandy but doesn’t, and the inevitable changes of heart that occur feel forced.
It’s not through the fault of Bateman or McCarthy. They’re not given much to work with and the laughs are too few. In fact, McCarthy fares much better with the dramatic moments than the comedic ones.
And Bateman seems to have played this role a dozen times before (see Horrible Bosses, The Change-Up, The Switch, Extract, and it’s not even that far removed from his signature role as Michael Bluth in Arrested Development).
Their chemistry is at least good, and there are some half decent cameos from Stonestreet, Jon Favreau and Patrick, even if the latter’s bounty hunter character is under-used.
But so much of the movie doesn’t work. The script strains, the tone feels uneven and as a whole it’s just not that funny.
It’s only the presence of Bateman and McCarthy, plus a couple of minor laughs and surprisingly nice dramatic moments, that save this from a one-star review.
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