Sunday, 7 April 2013

Identity Thief

Why didn’t I just listen? I have only myself to blame. No actually, I’ll blame my girlfriend as this film was her choice, but no, it’s not all on her, I have to shoulder some of the responsibility. At work Richard, the man behind I Liked That Film told me it was the worst film he’d seen all year and I’d listened to a couple of podcasts and read some reviews which stated similar. But still I went. And now I’ve added another few dollars to an ever expanding pot which makes this waste of talent (at time of writing) the second biggest box office draw of the year so far. How and why is this film so bad? All the ingredients are there. Melissa McCarthy is a fast rising comedy star who was great in Bridesmaids and stole her scenes in This is 40. Jason Bateman is one of the best every man-straight man types in Hollywood today. What happened?

The plot or should I say tenuous excuse to get Bateman and McCarthy in a car together for two hours is that Bateman plays Sandy Patterson. I know what you’re thinking; Sandy is a girl’s name. He must be some kind of girly man, right? Well if you think that’s funny then you’re gonna love the next couple of hours. So Sandy, ha, Sandy works in Denver at a job he’s good at but he doesn’t get the sort of appreciation he thinks he deserves (Amen, brother!). Sandy starts to notice that his credit limit is reduced and eventually his card is declined. He’s all like “What on Earth is going on? I only use the card for gas and coffee…” Meanwhile in Florida a woman (McCarthy) has stolen Sandy (Get it, like a girl’s name) Patterson’s identity and is using it to buy all sorts of hilarious items like hairspray and jet skis. Unfortunately the police can’t help because for some reason they’re not allowed to. So Sandy, wait, sorry. Sandy has to go to Florida himself and play bounty hunter by bringing the woman to Denver to explain to his boss that he’s a good boy really. Also there are bad guys with guns.

With a highly original and well thought out set up like that, what could go wrong? Well everything goes wrong. Even if you ignore the plot which makes about as much sense as syrup pyjamas and is holier than the Pope’s colander manufacturing company, there are zero laughs here. I literally did not laugh once. I barely even smiled. Instead I sat stony faced while bored out of my mind at endless references to the name Sandy, interspersed with pointless after pointless set piece like a car being hit by a truck or McCarthy running, you know, cos’ she’s fat. HAHA! The film makes no sense and it doesn’t even attempt to. There are other people chasing the pair and one of them (Robert Patrick) doesn’t even get an explanation as to why or who he works for. Then there’s T.I. and Genesis Rodriguez who occasionally come into shot, looking very attractive and dapper, ask someone who has recently seen Bateman and McCarthy where they went and then leave again. There’s so little going on and yet the film is 111 minutes long!

I got so bored that I audibly sighed when I realised that the road trip from Florida to Denver had only reached St. Louis. I couldn’t believe how far we still had to go. It drags like no film I’ve seen for a long time without jokes or humour of any kind. After an hour or so of hilarious bickering the film develops a kind of Stockholm Syndrome vibe to it whereby the couple have been stuck together for so long that they actually start to like each other and want to be best friends. This development is so contrived and pathetic that I wasn’t even angry, I was just disappointed. It’s obvious that the writers got to a point where they were on the home stretch but they realised (a little too late) that this was a comedy and they couldn’t let it end badly/as it really would do in real life, so they made the couple friends and gave us a sob story and then a nice ending whereby everyone lives happily ever after. Except the audience who are covered in popcorn flavoured vomit.

Jason Bateman as usual is watchable and he plays the every man character well. Melissa McCarthy struggles along and attempts to provide some laughs but even the more loose sounding dialogue for which she is famous sounds manufactured and like it’s been through several comities and seminars entitled “What makes Middle America laugh? With Special Guest Piers Morgan.” The supporting cast are in the film but they needn’t be. Jon Favreau turns up, acts like a dick and goes and John Cho appears for a few minutes in a role that I could have comfortably played. For me the highlight was seeing some of America’s freeways. Boring though this was, it’s always nice to see lesser seen areas of other countries and staring at grey tarmac for two hours would make me smile more than having to watch this movie again.  

GFR 3/10

  • Scenes set in St. Louis were filmed in Chattanooga. The arch and skyscrapers were digitally added.
  • Because of the film's financial success Identity Thief 2 has been announced. We only have ourselves to blame. 
  • Half way through my girlfriend suggested we leave the cinema. If I wasn't reviewing the film I would have jumped at the chance.     


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