Saturday, February 16, 2013

Identity Thief

By Jon Gallagher

Identity Thief (Universal, 2013) Director: Seth Gordon. Cast: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, John Cho, John Favreau, & Amanda Peet. Color, 112 minutes.

Got to be careful with this one. Rex Reed is in hiding after his review of this movie…

The hype has been second to none. Its trailers have been playing during prime-time for what seems like years. It’s one of those movies that probably shows all the funny parts during the trailers.

Not so. It’s actually a very funny movie that surprised me by making me like it.

Bateman plays Sandy Patterson, an accountant in Denver who falls victim to a lady con artist in Florida who steals his identity and his credit cards. While life unravels for him in the Mile High City, she’s living it up on the coast of the Sunshine State.

Sandy the guy is married with two little girls and a baby on the way. He’s slaving away for a boss who’s a pompous ass while trying to save money to buy a house for his growing family. Other accountants at his job decide to start their own firm and they offer Sandy a position at five times what he’s making currently.

Meanwhile, Sandy the gal (McCarthy), is running up his credit cards, ruining his credit, getting mixed up with drug dealers, and skipping out on court dates. It doesn’t take long for Denver police to pick up Sandy the guy and arrest him on Florida warrants. Once they discover his identity has been stolen, they let him go.

The problem comes from the clients of the new accounting firm who are reading all sorts of nasty things about Sandy Bigelow Patterson on the internet. His new firm wants to fire him, the police can’t help because the thief is half a country away, and poor Sandy is fit to be tied.

It’s at this point that he decides to go to Florida, capture the fake Sandy, and bring her back to Denver where authorities can take her into custody and straighten out the problems with his work. While that’s a nice though and a superb plan, someone forgot to tell Sandy the thief about it and she begins to throw truckloads of monkey wrenches into the mix.

Sandy finds his alter ego and they begin a cross-country trek after he promises her that she won’t have to go to the police, just talk to his new bosses. Shortly after that a pair of drug dealers who’ve been ripped off by her, and a bounty hunter who’s been offered $50,000 to bring her in, converge on the action.

I enjoyed the movie and found it funny. It kept me smiling clear to the end and even as the credits were rolling. It is NOT, however, a kid friendly movie. The “F” word is used extensively (along with other words and phrases you could expect to hear should your identity be stolen), and there’s a sex scene that I think could have been easily left out. Older teens might be okay with it, but I guarantee you that they’ll be extremely uncomfortable, sitting in the same row as Mom and Dad during that part. You, on the other hand, will be uncomfortable if you’re in the same theater as they are.

There’s a lot of physical humor, almost to the point of being slapstick, but it’s not overdone. Violence is kept to somewhat of a minimum, but there are a lot of car crashes and some gun play involved.

Both Bateman and McCarthy are excellent in their respective roles, playing believable characters. Somehow, they get us attached to both of them rather than rooting for one over the other. There has been talk on the internet about how it was wrong of Reed to badmouth McCarthy because of her weight, but this movie required the female lead to be overweight and obnoxious. It just would not work with someone like Reese Witherspoon or Amy Adams playing a Southern-type gal to Bateman’s average man. The physical comedy wouldn’t work and the whole movie would have to be changed. The way they had it was perfect. The chemistry between the two was some of the best I’ve seen for a while.

I’ll give this one a B+. I enjoyed it enough to give it a high grade, and this is one I might end up owning. I won’t be showing it to my youngest daughter or my grandkids, though, and that’s what held it back.

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