Identity Thief



07 February 2013| No Comments on Identity Thief     by Sean Chavel


Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman get some mileage out of scenes, but the script feels overly tampered with. Identity Thief is a decent comedy as is, and might have been a good one had 15 minutes been chopped off. McCarthy is a combustible comedienne as the scam artist who lives off of victims’ maxed out credit cards. Bateman is the droll everyman Sandy Bigelow Patterson (observe unisex name) who goes from Colorado to Florida to catch her and bring her into authorities – far-fetched but doable as a comedy premise. What blows it are the inclusion of assorted bounty hunters and drug henchmen along for the chase.

It’s not quite offensive but it is sour to watch unnecessary guns go off in what is supposed to be a comedy. And how many times do we have to see cars crash into each other? I have a feeling the first draft of the screenplay was better than the formula plug-in re-writes. The primary writer Craig Mazin also wrote “The Hangover Part II,” a few entries of “Scary Movie” and “Senseless.” This is a sign of a writer ready to play ball with nosey executives that tell him how to write, alas, he complies. I don’t know, really. But my theory sounds reasonable.

Director Seth Gordon has previous experience with Bateman on “Horrible Bosses.” Within scenes, he knows how to create a good vibe with actors. His lead actors, that is. When McCarthy and Bateman make stops at a restaurant diner and she refuses to order less on the tab than he wants, that’s simple but honest tension. Another funny scene is at a redneck bar called “The Foxhole” where McCarthy ropes in a sad-sack widow while Bateman helplessly tries to break up the party.

Lots of funny lines along the way. The two become unlikely friends which is a screenplay formula, of course, that harkens further back than “Planes, Trains & Automobiles.” McCarthy defends Bateman as a perfect gentleman. “He didn’t put a finger on me or in me.” That’s the kind of gutsy risqué humor… that I bet is entirely McCarthy’s invention. Outside of the 15 minutes of bounty hunter and car crash stuff, there’s hilarious moments here. If you’re a fan of McCarthy and Bateman, I won’t dissuade you too much.

Jon Favreau, John Cho, Morris Chestnut, and Eric Stonestreet (TV’s “Modern Family”) co-star. Plus, Amanda Peet who needs more color in her face (skin damage from smoking off-set perhaps?). And Robert Patrick (pic right) as the gratuitous bounty hunter, adding nothing and only a subtraction to the movie. Ditto Genesis Rodriguez and T.I. as the drug henchmen.

107 Minutes. Rated R.


Film Cousins: “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” (1987); “Tommy Boy” (1995); “Due Date” (2010); “Horrible Bosses” (2011).


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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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