Identity Thief | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Identity Thief

A poorly scripted comedy wastes the talents of its stars


There's hope in the poster, with its side-by-side images of two good comic actors: a freaked-out-looking Jason Bateman and an impish Melissa McCarthy. This is the kind of Mutt-and-Jeff pairing that draws unsuspecting viewers into the megaplex, seeking a few moments of carefree laughter, only to once again have their desires cruelly squashed.

Because Seth Gordon's film is an unfunny mess. They should teach it in film school on how to not make a comedy.

It starts with an idiotic premise: After having his identity stolen, Sandy (Bateman) goes to Florida to confront the woman, also named Sandy (McCarthy), who's been buying boats on his credit card, and ferry her back to Colorado to face justice. Because cops can't, or won't — or, mostly, because that would ruin the gimmick.

Road-trip antics ensue. Toss in two gangsters and a bounty hunter also tracking the free-spending lady, and the comic set-up is stretched thin enough to break. Which it does, and which is why Thief wraps up with an entirely new plot, in which the two Sandys are BFFs against the world. 

This is a sinking ship called Ghost of Midnight Run, riddled with holes from 100 terrible chase comedies that finally crashes against the rocks of Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Stuff.

The jokes run the gamut from fat-people-doing-stuff-is-funny to fat-people-getting-hurt-is-even-funnier. There are some bizarre moments when McCarthy is physically abused so intensely that the audience stopped laughing, and uncomfortable silence reigned. This film treats McCarthy like some kind of squeezy toy that can be pummeled by various men wielding various heavy objects, and then just snap back into place giggling. If there's a quiet moment, somebody yells "Fuck!" or McCarthy sings that "Milkshake" song again.

For my money, there is likely some good comic material around identity theft. After all, subterfuge and disguise are basic building blocks of comedy. But other than establishing that "Sandy" is a suitable name for both men and women, Gordon mostly abandons exploring the concept. For your money, I recommend that you (1) don't give your personal information to strangers over the phone, and (2) save $10 by not seeing this movie.

Comments (0)

Add a comment

Add a Comment