Identity Thief has its fair share of laughs, but McCarthy and Bateman can’t save the mess of a film that this script has created.
Zac: I love Seth Gordon’s King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, but ever since he broke into narrative features shortly after that doc’s release I have found nothing to really enjoy in any of them. Horrible Bosses was the most tolerable of his three features, Four Christmases might be one of the worst movies I have ever seen, Identity Thief falls somewhere closer to Bosses, but I could (and probably will) rip this film a new one at almost every turn.
Lauren: Goodness that’s the contents of this man’s IMDB page? Yikes… No wonder this one fell pretty flat, though I will say it was still better than expected because it looked pretty terrible going in. Like Due Date’s unwanted stepchild.
Even if McCarthy can’t really save the film, I will say that she made her character much more bearable than had it been cast with anyone less. She was able to handle the ridiculous comedy and switch gears to some pretty emotional stuff, and managed to keep me from rolling my eyes at her sob story because I believed her enough to let it pass. The character has some major issues in creation and just with who she is, but I think McCarthy definitely handled it well. And Bateman is antagonistic, sarcastic Bateman who knows better than everyone else.
Zac: I agree, McCarthy is pretty great, and she easily overcomes the fact that she doesn’t have a great script behind her like in Bridesmaids. The film actually has some funny scenes and set ups throughout, it just never knows how to run them all together. McCarthy and Bateman take most of these scenarios to a height they don’t deserve to hit and the laughs in the film are pretty much solely because of them. Bateman actually rattles off one of the funniest lines I have heard in awhile here, I won’t spoil, but it comes when he gets payback as they check into a motel. And before I move on, McCarthy’s highpoint of the film is emotional monologue over dinner near the end that just floored me with her incredible range.
So even though I had plenty of laughs throughout why did this movie suck so bad? Well, that’s because it absolutely made no sense. And don’t get me started on the issues with the film as a St. Louis native; who put those bridges there!
Lauren: Oh goodness. I was just happy to see the arch in there, but everyone else was all “That isn’t St. Louis!” past the initial cheers. There are more important things to complain about than our prized landmark being put into someone else’s city!
Nonsensical as this is to St. Louisans, this is definitely far from the furthest flaw in being able to understand what is going on because the subplots are just so horribly worked in. To give this film some incentive to get these two characters together for the road trip, a chase element was added with more than one group working towards snatching McCarthy’s character in addition to Bateman. Yet for the most part, other than a few scenes, our two leads never really acknowledge that they’re being followed. The danger is never felt, and these pursuers fight with each other as much as they fight with the leads. Not only that, but their ability to just happen into the scenes that McCarthy and Bateman are already carrying out is a little too easy. If they could go back and edit this, I say cut them out and just keep the butting heads the central, and only, conflict of the film.
Zac: Couldn’t agree more, but I think the most egregious issue with the film is the way that they form certain relationships at the end of the film that feel so false that they borderline ruin the whole movie. Plus, Bateman is forced to McCarthy’s level at one point and the logic behind their heist makes so little sense it ruins his character’s sense of intelligence.
Speaking of intelligence, these also must be the smartest criminal bad guys ever as they are magically able to find our leads on a number of occasions with no means whatsoever to do so. They are just magically there. And don’t tell me they said some crap about GPS, not buying it; even the cops can magically find the people they are looking for. The film would have been better served as being a period piece because in today’s technology driven world this story would never have happened in the first place. There is no way with the technology and abilities of today’s world that Bateman would have to do any of this to prove his name, and while I can look past that at first as it hinges the high concept of the film, the way the film constantly cheats just became too much to ignore. I wasn’t blazingly mad about any of it, that would be a waste of energy, but I was constantly saying in my head, “Really?”
Lauren: Even though Identity Thief bested my expectations for it, it still doesn’t move past mediocre because of all the issues holding it down. McCarthy is great, sure, and it is nice to see Eric Stonestreet do something far from who he is in Modern Family as he adventurously flirts with McCarthy, but there are other similar films out there that are far more worthy of returning to.