Review: Identity Thief

Director: Seth Gordon
Written by: Craig Mazin (screenplay), Jerry Eeten (story)
Starring: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, John Cho
Genre: Comedy | Crime

Synopsis: Mild-mannered businessman Sandy Patterson travels from Denver to Miami to confront the deceptively harmless-looking woman who has been living it up after stealing Sandy’s identity.


In my experience, I think that you can tell how a comedy will be based off of the trailer. The trailer tends to exploit the funnier moments of the film to draw in the audiences, so when the trailer is viewed over and over again, sometimes the humor is already dead going into the film. Comedies are a different flavor for everyone. While there may be some who take any opportunity to laugh, there are others who need quite a bit of effort to tickle their funny bone. With that being said, I felt that Identity Thief is one of those comedies that has had the majority of its humor given away in the trailer. If you found the humor lacking in the trailer, then I suspect you will not rate this film as a “laugh out loud” type of comedy.


The plot was predictable from beginning to end, which is typical for a comedy, but in this film they tend to overuse a lot of comedy cliches that we’ve seen so many times before. I won’t reveal the plot details (for those who somehow can’t figure out this film) but I will say that almost every moment was completely predictable, which killed the intended caught off guard moments of laughter. For instance, McCarthy’s singing in the car was extended too long and even was unnecessarily repeated at certain points, which made the humor feel more forced than it already was. If I was caught off guard by anything, I would say it was the horribly fast pace of the plot and insignificant subplots. There is so much jumping around that the supporting characters are easily lost and forgotten, making them nothing more than wasted screen time. I will say that although there are so many mishaps and inconsistencies in this film’s plot, there are some very tiny redeeming factors. I did enjoy the process of how this woman (McCarthy) stole Sandy’s (Bateman) identity and how easy it was to do so. This element along with the dramatic moments of the film were short breathers amongst the chaos and if they were elaborated upon, they could have been some key elements to build on for a dramatic thriller, but unfortunately this was a comedy.


One of the few funny moments…


The plot can easily be blamed a bit more for this film’s inadequacies but the characters in this film just did not mesh well. I did not like the chemistry between Bateman and McCarthy. McCarthy is more of a caricature which works in films like Bridesmaids where most of the characters have that awkward and goofy humor, but alongside Bateman (who has a dry and sarcastic style of humor) they both seem to cancel each other out. While I think both of these actors have strengths in their suited films, they weakened each other’s performance in this film, which was quite a shame. When they were isolated enough from one another, they were able to give us bits of the humor we love them for but their extended screen time together was just out of place.


I wish I could have enjoyed this film because I do like both of the lead actors in their proper comedic roles. There were just too many cliche and overused comedic elements that were force-fed to the audience in this very typical film. While there were some moments that I did laugh at, I do not feel there were enough of these moments to counter the plethora of setbacks in this film. I left this film feeling a bit bland, which is not the way one should feel after a comedy.


Identity Thief – 3 out of 10.

Overly used humor with an inconsistent plot

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About Ryan

First and foremost, Ryan Brown is a fan. He has been an avid fan of both the theater and cinema since an early age and his passion for both has been continually growing ever since. When dissecting a film, he focuses on all elements of film-making including some fan/cult factors. He believes that character development is the foundation of a good film and usually starts his analysis of a film from there moving forward. His writing style may be influenced by his background of narrative and argumentative studies in the subject, but he tends to enjoy a more conversational style to better interact with the readers, unlike some other pretentious and pompous writers.

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