Last year’s Horrible Bosses was something of a mixed bag: a comedy that hoped to capitalise on Bridesmaids’ recent success but, despite an interesting premise and some enthusiastic performances, didn’t quite reach its full potential. In many ways, the same can be said for director Seth Gordon’s follow-up, Identity Thief, only this time there’s far less fun to be had.
Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) is a mild-mannered businessman with a respectable job and model family. When he discovers his identity has been stolen and abused, however, Sandy finds his world crashing down around him. Realising the only way to clear his name and get his life back on track is to confront his identity thief, the rambunctious Diana (Melissa McCarthy), he sets off for Florida.
Lumbered with a wearisome script from Craig Mazin that almost instantly trashes a premise oozing with potential and relies too heavily on claptrap clichés, Identity Thief irritates far more than it entertains. A sub-plot involving two gang members on the hunt for Diana is thrown into the mix halfway through, clearly in a desperate attempt to ramp up proceedings.
It’s no use though, and these attempts only further drag the film down to new lows as the narrative chugs arduously. Not only is the narrative overloaded with annoying detours and half-hearted attempts to infuse emotionally integrity when all that’s needed is a pulse (the last act is cheaply sentimental), but the characters are lazily constructed to a point where the talent is ripped off.
Bateman and McCarthy do their best to inject some life and energy into the dead-end narrative, yet they feel too restrained by the material to hit their respective marks comedy-wise. Gordon’s direction, too, is uncontrolled, doing very little to correct the mistakes made elsewhere. It feels a lot like Identity Thief is suffering from its own identity crisis – one that’s only ever sporadically worth investing in.