‘Identity Thief,’ reviewed by Marshall Fine


Think of “Identity Thief” as a weak-tea reworking of “Midnight Run,” itself a long-overvalued action-comedy that was never as good its proponents would have you think.

Here’s the most damning credit in the list of unremarkable credits for “Identity Thief”: The writer is Craig Mazin, whose filmography includes “Scary Movie 3” and “4” and “The Hangover Part II.”

Mr. Originality, right?

The fact that this film is directed by Seth Gordon doesn’t bode well, either, given a track record that includes the half-funny “Horrible Bosses” and the similarly undercooked “Four Christmases.” Gordon, who made the stellar documentary, “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters,” seems to have mastered the art of taking a high-concept comedy and skimming its surface for a minimum of laughs.

In “Identity Thief,” Jason Bateman plays Sandy Patterson, a numbers-cruncher of some sort in an investment firm in Denver. He’s married with two kids, with a third on the way – but he and his wife (Amanda Peet) live in a small apartment, because he hasn’t had a raise or a bonus in years, while his piggy boss (Jon Favreau) takes home giant checks.

Sandy takes a lot of grief for his name: “Isn’t that a girl’s name?” people keep asking, as though this unfunny line is a sure-fire laugh-generator. Guess what? Not even the first time.

The point is he’s a nice guy, a softie who has to man up when he discovers that someone in Florida has not only stolen his identity but has run up huge bills and skipped out on a court appearance after being arrested. But when the Denver cops profess helplessness to deal with the problem, Sandy takes matters into his own hands and goes to Florida to find the miscreant.

She turns out to be a ball of fire named Diana and she’s played by Melissa McCarthy. Sandy finds her and forces her to go back to Denver with him to help straighten things out.

This review continues on my website.

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