Identity Thief

Directed By: Seth Gordon

Starring: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Jon Favreau, Amanda Peet, T.I., Genesis Rodriguez, Morris Chestnut, John Cho, Robert Patrick, Eric Stonestreet

Since the massive success of Bridesmaids some two years ago, Melissa McCarthy's career has been on the rise.  Her show Mike & Molly continues to be a hit on CBS.  She's scheduled to headline several comedies this year at the box office.  She's even rumored to be appearing in The Hangover Part III (which could breathe some fresh air into a rather stale franchise).  This weekend, McCarthy is back in theaters opposite Jason Bateman in road trip comedy Identity Thief.

Sandy Bigelow Patterson (Bateman) is not living the dream working in accounts processing at big bank PFG.  While his boss Harold Cornish (Jon Favreau) is taking a seven-figure payday, runts like Sandy haven't gotten paid a bonus in three years.  With his wife Trish (Amanda Peet), his two daughters, and a third one on the way, Sandy is barely getting by on his salary of $50,000 a year.  It certainly doesn't help that he has foolishly and unknowingly divulged his name, date of birth, and social security number over the phone to some mysterious woman posing as a bank representative.  Things get better though when Sandy takes a job paying $250,000 a year with fellow disgruntled PFG employee Daniel Casey (John Cho).

Sandy's wonderful new life comes crashing down fairly quickly because of that earlier mistake.  At the gas station one day, Sandy's credit card is declined for being maxed out and cut up by the attendant at the pump.  Thought to be a criminal on the run from Winter Park, Florida, Sandy is arrested soon afterwards.  After comparing mug shots, Detective Reilly (Morris Chestnut) of the Denver police determines that Sandy has been the victim of identity theft.  Some woman the height of a hobbit (McCarthy) has taken advantage of Sandy's good unisex name, and Sandy knows how to find her thanks to a misdirected call.  He has no intention of letting her get away while the cops stand idly by, so Sandy is going to Florida to catch Bilbo.  What he doesn't realize is that this woman is into some serious stuff (namely drugs), and criminals Marisol and Julian (Genesis Rodriguez and T.I.) are after her as well.

By all measures, Identity Thief is a formulaic road trip comedy.  Sandy and Diana (McCarthy) come together under the unlikeliest circumstances.  They don't like each other at all.  They eventually put aside their bitterness and start to form a long-lasting friendship.  While director Seth Gordon clearly doesn't break the mold with Identity Thief, he does execute the formula well.  With his talented stars playing to their strengths in roles that very much suit their comedic talents, Gordon delivers plenty of laughs.  Despite its obvious flaws, Identity Thief does its job. It brings the laughs.

Identity Thief's two stars play to their strengths, and this works for the most part.  As Sandy/Diana/Dawn, Melissa McCarthy plays a crazy woman who doesn't have a lot of friends.  She's ultimately playing a slightly tamer version of her character Megan from Bridesmaids.  While she doesn't live up to that performance, she certainly delivers plenty of laughs.  As the real Sandy, Jason Bateman does what he does best and plays the straight arrow.  As usual, he gives us the anal retentive character who almost always plays by the rules.  Pigeonholing himself into these types of characters works for Bateman, so I have very little to say on the matter.  He's much funnier in the film though in those rare moments when he's not playing by the rules.

The film has a strong supporting cast as well.  It's been a while since I've seen Eric Stonestreet playing a straight guy, but his character Big Chuck brings a healthy dose of humor to the big screen.  As Marisol and Julian, Genesis Rodriguez and T.I. make a fun pair of stereotypical criminals and have lots of fun interactions on camera.  Despite these solid performances, my favorite supporting cast member has to be Robert Patrick in his role as Skiptracer.  It's been more than two decades since he gave us the T-1000 in T2, but this guy is still playing ridiculously resilient villains.  This works to hilarious perfection for Patrick in a comedy like Identity Thief.

I know that Identity Thief has its problems, but I'm not complaining.  It's a charming road trip comedy that consistently delivers laughs.  As long as the film is entertaining, nothing else really matters.  Identity Thief gets a strong 0.06% rating.  Have a couple of rounds of beer with this one.