Sunday, July 11, 2021

Identity Thief

Movie Name:
Identity Thief
Year of Release: 2013
Director: Seth Gordon
Starring: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Amanda Peet, John Cho, Jon Favreau, T.I., Genesis Rodriguez, Morris Chestnut, Robert Patrick, Eric Stonestreet, Jonathan Banks, Ryan Gaul
Genre: Comedy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 3
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
Director Seth Gordon followed his first two feature films, "Four Christmases" and "Horrible Bosses", with another feature of the same genre, continuing in the process his collaboration with the wonderful Jason Bateman. With a screenplay from Craig Mazin (who shares story credits with Jerry Eeten), who made a name for himself working with David Zucker on the "Scary Movie" franchise, and with Todd Phillips in "The Hangover" series, this film features a story of an every day man falling into the trap of dealing with an experienced con artist. The central hero of the narrative is Sandy Patterson, a regular white collar business executive, who lives in Denver with his wife and two daughters, with an additional one on the way. Without paying much attention, Sandy falls prey to the dealings of Diana, a credit card scammer, who gets Sandy's social security number, forges a series of documents, and starts living off his stolen identity. When Sandy seizes the opportunity of a new job, this whole thing explodes, since Diana maxed out credit cards, and actually has quite a few warrants against her in Florida. Sandy manages to convince his boss to give him a chance to correct all these wrongs: he will bring the con artist back to Denver, and in the process clear his reputation and cease all bad lines of credit that have been raised against him. Diana however, has other plans in mind.
"Identity Thief" has a solid premise at its core, alongside two very talented and charismatic performers. However from the get go, director Seth Gordon illustrates the situations without much inventiveness or  for that matter, without actually exploring the situations for all they can possibly go. It's a film that for the most part is always at the precipice of crossing a line, possibly being a bit darker, but avoids doing so, portraying everyone on this reality either as hapless criminals or criminals with a heart of gold. One of the main issues with the film is precisely this lack of definition on what it wants to be: it can figure out if it is a rather raunchy look at the extremes a regular guy has to go in order to reclaim his good name, or a good hearted comedy about a series of slapstick endeavors centered around a mild mannered person and the con artist with a heart of gold, who just wants to be appreciated. Both of these aspects are somewhat at odds in the film, and neither one nor the other completely take over, but never quite marry well enough together. In the end the film manages to live from the chemistry and enormous talent from both Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy, who of course bring their characters to life with gusto and vivacity, with solid support from Amanda Peet, Eric Stonestreet and Jon Favreau, all three of whom have very little to do. The cinematography from the always excellent Javier Aguirresarobe is solid but uninspired, the same going for the score from Christopher Lennertz and product design from Shepherd Frankel. A missed opportunity, considering all talent involved.