Just watching the trailer to ‘Identity Thief’, you know straight away that you’ve seen this movie before - and you have, a hundred times before and a hundred times better, back when it was called ‘Plane, Trains and Automobiles’ or ‘Midnight Run’, or more recently ‘Due Date’ (although that one wasn’t very good either). This time around, director Seth Gordon (‘Horrible Bosses’) has switched it up just enough by adding a little X chromosome to the mix to try to trick you into thinking this is something new. But we’re smarter than that, right? Well actually, no. Having already blitzed the U.S. box-office, well exceeding the $100 million mark, it’s now Australia’s turn to take the bait.
When the mild-mannered businessman and unfortunately named Sandy Bigelow Patterson (Jason Bateman) becomes a victim of identity fraud at the worst possible time in his life, he takes the law into his own hands and travels from Denver to Florida to track down the imposter and right a few wrongs. But it turns out Sandy isn’t the only one who’s after Diana the thief (Melissa McCarthy), forcing the pair to team up with unexpected consequences.
Putting two improv masters like Bateman and McCarthy on screen together, the filmmakers probably thought the film would practically write itself - but it didn’t. Shockingly, the two leads have little comedic chemistry together; maybe they were just tired, or maybe (as many refuse to acknowledge) these kind of things simply can’t be manufactured. We’ve all seen ‘Bridesmaids’ and ‘This is 40’ - when left to her own devices, McCarthy’s comedic and improv chops are A-grade, but with all the convoluted plot points and secondary story lines tethering her skills, McCarthy comes off deflated and much like a bug stuck on its back struggling to find the right way up. The jokes try so hard it's almost painful to watch them crash and burn, taking great talent down with them. Lazy storytelling filled with cheap laughs and wasted talent leaves everyone feeling ripped off and disappointed.
There’s a funny movie buried in here somewhere - it’s not hard to see, it’s just hard to accept.