I liked Identity Thief a lot better when it was called Planes, Trains and Automobiles. It was a lot funnier, had a better cast, and the heartfelt ending was actually heartfelt and not a load of phony bologna.
Don’t get me wrong, Identity Thief has some funny moments, but they are few and far between. Mostly it’s just a litany of tired jokes in a underdeveloped script. The main character is a man named Sandy (after pitching legend Sandy Kofax). This is tent pole joke that has to carry through the entire movie. He has a girl’s name. Do you get it? Do you see why this is dumb?
Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy seem to be trying way too hard to make this bad script funny. I commend them, but it just came across as kind of sad. They are both great actors, and I’ve enjoyed them in their TV shows. I’m pretty sure they just got handed a bum script.
Bateman plays a low level employee at an investment firm who is getting a chance to become a VP for a start up company. The wheels come off the bus, however, when he gets his identity stolen over the phone. Doesn’t that sound like the sort of thing an investment banker should be able to avoid? It gets better. The police and his new boss are so cartoonishly unhelpful that they seem excited he is in debt up to his eyeballs and look forward to heaping more humiliation upon him.
In the end, he decides to travel from Denver, Colorado to Winter Park, Florida to capture his identity thief and bring her to justice. I would explain how this would save his job, but the reason is to insipid and unrealistic I decided just to make fun of it instead.
Are you still reading? If it seems like you have been reading this review for too long, that is nothing compared to how you will feel after the opening of this movie. It takes way too long for Sandy to get on the road and find, well, Sandy. The other Sandy, who isn’t Sandy. By the time he finds her and the movie finally gets rolling I had nearly forgotten that it was supposed to be funny.
This is where the movie becomes a bad imitation of Planes. There’s a marked lack of subtlety and the overbearing fat character is trying to get away from and openly harassing the straight guy, but those are about the only differences. There is an awkward hotel scene, they destroy several cars, and don’t have money when it’s time to get on the bus.
As if that weren’t bad enough, they proceeded to attempt the dramatic ending where you discover the reason identity thief Sandy act the way she does. Unlike in Planes, where it is done subtly with class, the writers punch you in the throat with it. She cries and we are all suppose to realize that deep down she really is the identity thief with a heart of gold.
Oh, and did I mention that there were some hit men after them. I probably forgot to mention them because the writer forgot to give them a plausible reason for being there, or a sub-plot that added anything to the overall story. Their part was completely pointless.
So, if you are interested in seeing some really good actors do their best in a really bad movie, check out Identity Thief. If you would rather enjoy a really funny road movie, I think Planes, Trains and Automobiles is available to stream on Netflix.
The comedy film Identity Thief, directed by Seth Gordon, is Rated R for sexual content and language. The film, which was released Feb. 8, 2013, is 111 minutes long, and is now available on DVD from Universal.