IDENTITY THIEF (Seth Gordon, 2013)
Melissa McCarthy is fast becoming the next big Hollywood comedian. Proving to be a show-stealer despite established comediennes Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph in BRIDESMAIDS, and with the upcoming THE HEAT opposite comedy darling Sandra Bullock, McCarthy fires sarcasm and sight gags without so much as a sweat. In IDENTITY THIEF, she perfectly portrays the character of a sociopath with a heart. In fact, IDENTITY THIEF ought to be credited for humanizing an identity thief, a personality that is condemned by modern society.
Jason Bateman is mild-mannered Sandy Patterson, a corporate guy who becomes an unwitting victim of identity theft by plain nature of his gullibility. In this instance, IDENTITY THIEF stands out as a gargantuan visual reminder to the millions of victims of identity theft/online scams and to the millions of potential victims NOT to get fooled (again).
Diana (McCarthy) pretends she's a representative of the credit card company, gets the vital information from Sandy and she becomes an instant one-day millionaire, much to the innocence of poor old Sandy. When shit hits the fan, Sandy tracks Diana in order to restore his life to normal, and that's when we all get a stunning revelation- Diana is actually a human being with normal problems and normal heartaches. Suddenly we root for the bad guy even though we are fully aware that her behavior is reprehensible. The film though does not condone her criminal behavior whatsoever.
Where IDENTITY THIEF goes south is when it plays out its road trip sequence like a cartoon, with villains unworthy even of a seat in the bad guy meeting in Wreck-It Ralph. We never know who or what happens to the sinister-looking inmate who wants to be the Godfather of the cell block. The black guy and the Latina hit duo (this sentence sounds like they are a couple of singers) are clearly racial stereotypes (T.I. tries desperately to be menacing, but fails). And Robert Patrick's bounty hunter character is so poorly-written it is a shame waste of his acting talent.
Nevertheless, IDENTITY THIEF delivers a guaranteed laughter vehicle, credits mostly to McCarthy who saves the film from being another generic comedy. Seth Gordon ought to be credited too, for rising above the irreparable damage to our consciousness also known as HORRIBLE BOSSES, a film so blatantly aimed at "horrible bosses" and so hell bent on getting even that it refuses to be funny at all.