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‘Identity Thief’ has an identity crisis

William Wright, ’Doah Staff Writer
February 20, 2013

'Doah photo courtesy of IdentityThief.com

‘Doah photo courtesy of IdentityThief.com

In the new comedy “Identity Thief,” Jason Bateman continues his career-long streak of playing the quintessential straight man opposite characters with outrageous personalities.

Bateman plays Sandy Patterson, a hardworking family man who has his identity stolen by a criminal living in Florida who goes by the name Diana, portrayed by Melissa McCarthy. Diana has made it a habit of living lavishly off of other people’s credit, which effectively ruins Sandy’s and puts his new high-paying job at risk. Due to the fact that Diana’s crimes are out of the jurisdiction of the Colorado police, where Sandy lives, he takes it upon himself to journey to Florida and apprehend her in order to clear his name.

Bateman is predictably enjoyable with his familiar deadpan delivery, but we’ve seen it before and we’ve seen it done better in other films. Director Seth Gordon has also done much better work in the past. McCarthy gives the most well-rounded performance in the film, as she is able to successfully portray over-the-top comedy, as well as moments of real emotion.
The biggest failure of this film is the writing. Most of the biggest faults all come down to a script that could have used another draft or two. Written by Craig Mazin and Jerry Eeten, this movie suffers from a number of moments that are either wasted or superfluous to the story.

The generic criminal organization and a random bounty hunter, as well as Sandy’s grudge against his old boss are all plot lines that seem haphazardly thrown into the story. Despite good performances from Jon Favreau, Robert Patrick and Genesis Rodriguez, they really do not add anything to the film. If they had kept the focus more on Bateman and McCarthy’s characters, we all might have experienced a much better movie.

Another issue comes from the fact that the script is written to have the audience feel sympathy for McCarthy’s character almost from the start. But, by being juxtaposed with the perpetually likable Bateman, McCarthy has been made to look extremely unsympathetic. However, the biggest problem of all may just be the fact that the entire premise of this film latches onto a ridiculous conception of police jurisdiction that claims that the thief must be in the jurisdiction of the victim in order for an arrest to occur.

On a scale of 0-5, I give this film a 2.5. It had its funny moments and some really good acting as well. I just wish it was a better-written movie. If you have nothing better to do one day, catch this movie once it comes to cable, but don’t waste your money on a theater ticket.

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