Wednesday, February 20, 2013

IDENTITY THIEF (2013)


Written by Craig Mazin


Directed by Seth Gordon


Where & When: Vista Theater, Los Angeles, CA.  February 9, 2013 9:45PM



The buddy comedy has been around since the early days of cinema from the slapstick teams of Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello and Martin & Lewis to the more edgy modern take of pairing two unlikely forces such as Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte in "48 Hours" or Charles Grodin and Robert DeNiro in "Midnight Run". The latest entry, "Identity Thief" is an uneven road comedy that features the team of Jason Bateman and the inspired choice of Melissa McCarthy who takes full advantage of her first leading film role. Much like she did in the surprise hit, "Bridesmaids", Ms McCarthy effortlessly steals every moment she's on screen but the movie is not exactly worthy of her efforts nor gifts.The film gracelessly shifts from outrageous farce to a brief, violent thriller and back without warning and not much good effect.

Sandy Patterson (Bateman) is a happily married man living in Colorado with his wife (Amanda Peet) expecting their third child. On his way to work, he receives a call offering identity protection and all he has to do is provide his personal information. Unfortunately, the person on the line is a professional thief living in Florida who has just stolen his identification for their own financial gain. Diana (McCarthy) is a bubbly yet lonely full-figured woman who uses this new identity to try to impress people with money. After making fake ID's and credit cards under the name of "Sandy Patterson", she goes on a frenzied, shopping spree which includes a stop at a local bar, buying drinks for all the patrons. While hoping to make some new friends, all Diana managed to accomplish was to get very drunk and arrested for disorderly conduct.

It was only a matter of time before the real Sandy Patterson got wind of the fraud and the timing couldn't be worse as he just left his job to start a new company with other dissatisfied former employees lead by Daniel (John Cho). After the police detective (Morris Chestnut) informs him they can't do anything since the crime occurred out of state, Sandy decides to track the thief down himself, using a tip he received on their location, and bring them back to Colorado.

Shocked to discover that the crime was committed by a woman, Sandy is still determined to bring her to justice but the lady thief is far from cooperative, using a swift punch to the throat to get her point across. Eventually, he promises not to press charges against her if she comes back with him to clear his name. Thus begins a whirlwind of a road trip with danger not lurking far behind as two very attractive but deadly characters (Hip-hop musician, T.I. and Genesis Rodriguez) are hot on their heels eager to put a bullet in Diana due to a bad business deal she made with their boss. A determined bounty hunter (Robert Patrick) is tracking them down to bring Diana in for skipping bail and after a stop at a hotel bar, Big Chuck (Eric Stonestreet) wants to get her too but for more of a carnal nature.

It's better to just ignore this plot, since it's nothing more than nonsense and focus on what really makes this screwball adventure chug along which are the talented lead performers. "Thief" perfectly utilizes their comedic gifts with the deadpan Bateman bringing his now trademark exasperated expressions mixed with the manic energy of Ms McCarthy makes for a deliciously hilarious combo that almost makes it worth the price of admission. While this film is much like the director, Seth Gordon's previous effort, "Horrible Bosses" that combined raunchy sitcom-styled humor with flashes of dark violence, "Identity Thief" amps up the mayhem to full speed, leaving the story to feel disjointed and out of control. Some of the gags surprisingly manages to be wildly unrestrained and too ridiculous to believe while the bloodshed feels completely out of place in such a broad comedy.

Lessons are learned and lives are changed by the time they reach their final destination but while "Identity Thief" does successfully deliver plenty of chuckles and even a few belly laughs, there isn't nearly enough clever wit to make it feel like it was worth the long, rambling trip.