In many cases, stories require you to use your imagination and run with it. I, for one, am always up for good fiction. I am willing to enter a world that makes me ask questions, but please — don’t insult my intelligence with a story that has no answers to the questions. As Mark Twain said, “Fiction has to make sense.” Not much did in Universal Pictures’ “Identity Thief,” directed by Seth Gordon. The fault does not lie in the directing or acting. Melissa McCarthy is a one woman show, punching out foul jokes and turning pain into hilarity. Jason Bateman did his usual ‘average guy’ bit. No, the fault lies in the screenwriter’s hands: Craig Mazin. And perhaps even the producers should share in the blame for supporting a script with half-baked ideas and ill-conceived subplots.
The synopsis says it all: A lonely, verging on lunatic woman (Melissa McCarthy), steals identities for a living. She uses Sandy Bigelow Patterson’s (Jason Bateman) ID and credit cards for her shopping sprees and criminal actions. The real Sandy is held responsible for her thefts and the only way to prove his innocence is by tracking her down himself and bringing her to the police. This leads to a 2,000 mile road trip from Florida to Denver where Sandy is forced to buddy-up with the con artist. While the two are bonding and battling obstacle after obstacle (i.e. car gets hit by a truck and a snake steals Sandy’s pants), some juiced-up hick and an entirely separate team of two thugs are chasing down McCarthy’s character for some unknown reason.
Now, Mazin has a history of writing scripts with preposterous plots and unlikely outcomes, but he hasn’t truly disappointed until now. He’s responsible for “Hangover Part II” and the not yet released “Hangover Part III,” as well as a couple of “Scary Movies.” The mistake he made with “Identity Thief” was writing it in the first place. Nothing adds up from beginning to end. Why wouldn’t the credit card company or bank handle what was clearly an identity theft issue? Isn’t that what the Fraud Protection and Prevention department is for? Why wouldn’t the cops take the case into their own hands rather than instructing the victim to solve the crime? That’s just the start of the questions. When it comes to the hick and thugs tracking down Sandy and con-Sandy; we never know what she really did to them and who was on the other end of the phone call when they ordered the ‘hit’. At a certain point one is left too tired from thinking about what is unraveling on screen, to pay attention to the jokes.
Thankfully, Melissa McCarthy is a powerhouse of a comedic actress. There are a handful of laugh-out-loud moments as a result of her character’s filthy mouth. That was the one plus. But unfortunately, even her comedic talents couldn’t save this one. “Identity Thief” has a bad credit score.
By: Pamela Price