Identity Thief – 2013

Director Seth Gordon
Starring Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Jon Favreau, Amanda Peet, Génesis Rodríguez, T.I., Robert Patrick, John Cho, Morris Chestnut, Eric Stonestreet, Jonathan Banks
Screenplay Craig Mazin

This movie would not exist without a dedicated ignorance to common sense.  Financial accountant extraordinaire Sandy Patterson (Bateman) answers a phone call at random to his cell phone.  Based on what the woman on the other end of the line has told him, he immediately surrenders all of his personal information in a gleeful manner.  Diana, the scammer  at the end of the line in Florida, wastes no time swiping his financial existence, going out on the town to rescue herself from her low self-esteem.

Back home in Denver, through a confluence of events so hackneyed I can’t even write it out for fear that I might inject logic into the mix, Sandy is arrested for failure to appear in Florida.  The cops that found him so easily on his way to his first day of work at a new job in his car then don’t have the access to determine ahead of time if the he is a she. Believe me, it only gets more far fetched from here.  If everyone forgot that the internet existed, or, that even when Police know when and where someone might be they could, you know, call on the phone and have a local pick that person up, what happens next might make sense.  Really, they should have just put up a card to the camera that reads as follows:

Sandy has to buy tickets and fly to Florida (even though his credit is shot to hell).  Then he has to kidnap Diana, and if she does not agree to go back, shoot her up with tranq pills.  Then, well look, this is a buddy movie, so they will have to face adversaries together and then drive back.  We know it’s far fetched, but just buy it.  You will be fine.

Add to this two sets of folks who are out to harm Diana.  One of them is because of drugs, and one of them, well, is Robert Patrick, bounty hunter.  I have to admit to getting a tingle when I saw Patrick asking questions to the young lady at the salon.  It’s the Terminator 2, Lady.  You’re doomed!  Just pray he doesn’t turn into a blade on your ass.  The other two are tied to Mike the Hitman (Banks) from Breaking Bad.  Nice to see him getting work, but who in the hell decided to call him Paolo?  We know no one’s gonna catch the two top billers, though, so essentially they are wasted screen time.  Okay, all except for Terminator 2.

Speaking of our two leads, the goal is to get these two on the road and see what goofy crap we can get to happen to them.  Some of it works (Stonestreet as Big Chuck) and most of it does not (snakes running around in the middle of a cold night).  The only things that are predictable is due to use of common themes.  The only things that are not predictable is when they defy all logic to connect dots.

Bateman is reliable as a screen presence.   He gives the story everything he has, and fortunately, he’s had plenty of experience soldiering through bad material.  McCarthy has moments of brilliance – like that awesome throat punch – that shows her potential to kick ass with the right material.  Fortunately there were no food jokes this time.  Okay, well not many.  Ultimately, though, they have hitched their comedic chops to the wrong wagon for now.  Until they break away from Hollywood comedy scattershot artists like Gordon and Mazin, they may have hit movies, but not good or memorable ones.

(** out of *****)

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