Identity Thief
May 27, 2013

Identity Thief is billed as a comedy, and given the cast, you’d expect humor. Jason Bateman (Arrested Development) stars as a low-level bank employee whose life is destroyed when his identity is stolen by Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids). Supporting cast include Jon Favreau and John Cho as his bosses, Amanda Peet as his wife, and Morris Chestnut as the detective who tries to arrest him. But you’ll be wondering where the laughs are, since they never come.

Everything that happens to Bateman is all too realistic. Just because he trusts someone when he answers the phone, he loses his credit rating and his job, and he almost gets arrested several times. The thief is pitiful, a low-class, frizzy-haired loser who steals money in order to buy temporary friends. (As we’re flat-out told by one character, in case we couldn’t figure it out ourselves. The movie does not demand a lot of thought from its viewers.) I’m not sure why we’re supposed to be laughing at any of these situations. They’re uncomfortable when they’re not disturbing.

Then Bateman’s character decides he can bring back McCarthy all by himself, with no training, which is where punching and fighting comes in, as well as some truly bad driving. (Bateman, in the making-of, says that he really enjoyed watching Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, and it shows.) This choice doesn’t make sense, nor does McCarthy’s acceptance of his plan to go back to Denver together. Her showing up and saying “yeah, I stole his identity” isn’t going to solve anything, since everyone already knows that. Honestly, the movie might have worked better as a drama, especially we start getting the information that’s meant to make McCarthy’s character more sympathetic.

The movie is available on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital download June 4. It’s directed by Seth Gordon, whose previous film Horrible Bosses had a lot of the same bad attitude and structural problems. The trailer pretty much covers the film, with all the best bits, at much shorter length:

The Blu-ray combo pack includes an extended unrated edition that provides an additional nine minutes. (I can’t tell you what they are, because I couldn’t force myself through this twice.) It comes with both an UltraViolet and an iTunes-compatible digital copy. Special features are:

  • A gag reel (under a minute), mostly of people cracking up.
  • Five minutes of alternate takes, showing McCarthy ad-libbing.
  • The seventeen-minute making-of is typical, with the stars and cast talking about how great it was to make the movie.
  • “Scene Stealing: Capturing the Humor of Identity Thief” is seven and a half minutes specifically about the comedy. I couldn’t tell the difference between this and the making-of.
  • “The Skiptracer’s Van” (3 1/2 minutes) features Robert Patrick, in character, showing his van and its properties.

The DVD has the extended version, the gag reel, and the making-of. (The studio provided a review copy.)

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