Identity theft is a terrible thing that can make your life miserable for months. “Identity Thief” is much the same, except it will only ruin two hours of your life.
Jason Bateman stars as Sandy Patterson, an easy-going numbers guy at a financial firm in Colorado. He has a lovely wife (Amanda Peet) and two adorable little girls with a third child on the way. He’s just taken a new job that will dramatically increase his salary. Everything’s coming up roses for Sandy Patterson.
Enter Diana (Melissa McCarthy), a free-spirit living in Florida who makes her living stealing people’s identities, running up large tabs on fake credit cards and ruining her victims’ credit ratings and finances. Sandy is her latest victim.
The Colorado police say there’s little they can do and it could take months or years to straighten things out. Sandy’s employers are not willing to wait that long and cannot afford to have a credit disaster like Sandy as vice president of the new company.
In a plot contrivance that can only happen in dumb movies, Sandy’s boss agrees to give him one week to fly down to Florida, catch the thief and bring her back to Colorado. Once Sandy finds Diana, he discovers they can’t fly back so it’s zany road trip time.
Of course, Diana isn’t going to be a cooperative passenger. Further complicating matters, she’s being hunted down by a ruthless bounty hunter (Robert Patrick) and a pair of dangerous hoodlums (Genesis Rodriguez and T.I.).
Directed by Seth Gordon, “Identity Thief” has two basic problems. First, it’s not very funny — which is a pretty basic problem for a comedy. There are a few chuckles here and there, but nothing worth leaving the house or paying money to experience. The actors are fine but the material is weak.
My other problem is that by the end of the movie I’m supposed to feel sorry for Diana and wish her well. I don’t. She’s a criminal who relished her life of crime and never gave a thought to the people she was hurting. Oh, until she hears Sandy’s daughter on his cell-phone and the tears flow. Sorry, it’s just too sappy for me.
I’m not a big fan of hyperbole in movie reviews and it’s way too early to declare “Identity Thief” the worst movie of 2013. But it’s certainly set the bar for all competitors to try to go under.