On the surface it appears all the ingredients for a ripe comedy are present in Seth ‘Horrible Bosses’ Gordon’s new comedy Identity Thief. Jason Bateman, pre-Arrested Development return and Bridesmaid’s finest Melissa McCarthy in a fun road trip – what’s not to like about this film’s particular identity?
Especially when Bateman’s playing to type as the ever patient everyman Sandy Patterson who finds out he has a much less conservative and far more reckless namesake in the form of Miami’s McCathy, who’s stolen his identity and enjoying maxing out his cards. Cue all sorts of mayhem as Bateman heads out to Florida to return her to Denver and face justice.
So, essentially Identity Thief’s premise feels more akin to Todd Phillip’s recent offering Due Date rather than the late ‘80s classics it might prefer comparisons with. That’s not bad thing of course, with that film being an unexpected pleasure, especially when you consider how poor The Hangover franchise ended up, and while Identity Thief certainly lacks originality, that star power surely has enough to generate plenty of laughs, doesn’t it?
Sadly not so. Although there’s the odd titter to be found in some of Bateman’s reactions to McCarthy’s increasingly bizarre and erratic behavior – a night time motel encounter being an early highlight – too often the film resorts to contrivances to move the plot forward. An unnecessary sub plot involving bounty hunters and gang lords doesn’t help either.
All of which means that, though both Bateman and McCarthy are clearly giving their all, they’re not helped by Craig Mazin’s tired script which leaves plot points unexplained (snakes?!) and events sadly laugh-free at times, meaning that despite comparisons with the John Candy/Steve Martin classic Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Identity Thief ends up just plain, strained and on comic autopilot.