Identity Thief * (R) This lame-brained comedy might actually be funnier that this rating indicates, though wasting gifted actors like Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy calls for consequences. Identity theft is a serious problem. That doesn’t preclude milking laughs from a hyperbolized example, but the script has to serve the cast and concept far better than this one does.
Bateman plays a corporate financial drone with a lovely family and nice little life in Denver. McCarthy not only runs up huge bills and a DUI under his name in Florida, but does so just when he’s starting a great new job that will vanish within a week if he can’t clear the record first. She can borrow his name because it’s Sandy, which is beaten to death as a recurring joke about his manliness. Yeah. Really. That’s how low the comic branches hang.
Jason heads to the Sunshine State, desperately hoping she’ll ‘fess up to his boss and save his career. He discovers he’s been victimized by a woman who is part criminal and part kook. Her house is bulging at the seams with stuff she’s bought under a slew of false IDs. She’s also in hot water with a local crime boss who has two sets of thugs chasing her. That sets Melissa and Jason on a seemingly interminable road trip in the tradition of farces like Planes, Trains & Automobiles, in which unlikely, if not antagonistic, characters find themselves stuck with each other for a journey.
Despite his record of helming episodes of many worthy sitcoms, director Seth Gordon appears overmatched by the scale of a film production with multiple locations (including, alas, our own fair city). The movie is too long and too silly to work. McCarthy’s character is so ill-defined that when the action shifts to the script’s inevitable warm fuzzy bits, nothing resonates. Big disappointment. (2/8/13)