“Identity Thief” is a new film from “Horrible Bosses” director Seth Gordon, starring Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy. Much like actually getting your identity stolen, the film is a long and tedious process with few moments that make it at all memorable. The film follows Diana (McCarthy), a professional identity thief who lives on the outskirts of Miami, where she buys anything and everything on the stolen credit of others. Her latest victim happens to be Sandy Bigelow Patterson (Bateman), an accounts rep with a unisex name who lives across the U.S. in Denver. Because of questionably lackluster police work, Bateman sets off on a quest to bribe, coax and force Diana to return with him to Denver and clear the charges on his name.
The core problem with the film is its runtime. The film is a two-hour, 27-minute comedy where too many jokes fall flat. It follows the stereotypical road trip model of bringing together an odd couple and putting them in increasingly ridiculous scenarios to see how they react. This model is generally most successful with each set-piece moment leaving a memorable impression that stays with you after the credits roll. “Identity Thief” has many of these set-piece moments, but I really can’t recall any of them making me laugh. It is fun to watch Bateman and McCarthy roll around on screen acting silly, but the movie just wears on far too long to resonate beyond the runtime.
This is a real shame considering director Seth Gordon’s previous success with “Horrible Bosses,” which had a refreshing take on the raunchy comedy genre. The one-note jokes in “Horrible Bosses” landed and did not stick around long enough to get old. “Identity Thief,” on the other hand, continuously plays on three jokes: Sandy is a girl’s name, McCarthy’s character does something off the wall, and Jason Bateman makes the Jason Bateman face.
The film presented many elements that could have been either fleshed out or eliminated entirely. For example, there are two to three antagonists who seem to have very little to do throughout the movie. Compressing them into one funny, menacing villain would have allowed the plot to wrap up quicker and allow those unconventional moments of the film to really shine. The talent in this film, like Henry Cho of “Harold and Kumar,” Jonathan Banks of “Breaking Bad” and Ellie Kemper of “The Office,” seems wasted with minute parts that amount to little more than forgettable cameos.
There is nothing new or particularly innovative with this film that makes it worth the price of admission. However, as another raunchy comedy, there is plenty worse than “Identity Thief.” It manages to have a few chuckleworthy moments based on shock value with little staying power.
There is a glimmer of brilliance in “Identity Thief” that is lost in the slog of the film’s runtime. Bateman and McCarthy are funny people, but there is so much of the same joke and forgettable humor that their star power simply can’t carry the film. The overall lack of focus cripples the film and makes it just another raunchy comedy.