Saturday, 14 December 2013

Identity Thief (2013)

Identity Thief may very well concern itself with a crime that is very much of our time but in essence this film is a throwback to the odd couple road movies of the 1980s, namely Planes Trains and Automobiles and Midnight Run.

Except obviously, this is nowhere near as good as those classics.

It's no surprise that Hollywood, suffering a critical creative dearth right now would want to emulate the road trip buddy buddy comedies of yesteryear, desperate to find some of that old magic and reignite the box office with it. I must admit I am predisposed to this genre of movie and I did fancy something that was utterly popcorn and dumb tonight that would hopefully provide me with a few laughs. The last truly decent take on this kind if film was Due Date, which proved there was potential box office reigniting life in the old dog yet, but Identity Thief pretty much changes that impression in one fell swoop. The contemporary premise is swiftly disbanded and left on the sidelines to just hang the misadventures of our two mismatched travellers upon. This would be fine, if the jokes and set pieces were of a high quality but unfortunately the only joke here seems to be Melissa McCarthy being hit, or Melissa McCarthy hitting people. This provides a snort of laughter once, maybe twice tops but in no way can it sustain the bum numbing welcome outstaying 107 minute running time the film has and inevitably the action soon flags. Why are modern American comedies so damn long??

Ultimately the film just about gets by on the audience's willingness to like Jason Bateman and McCarthy, but the script doesn't exactly do much to help any viewer with that endeavour.  McCarthy is a ball of energy which does occasionally win you over, whilst equally occasionally feels utterly obnoxious - and rightly so, given the crime in question does actually destroy lives. Bateman however offers us little new; it's just the same sarky straight man routine he's perfected ever since his career was rebooted with the wonderful Arrested Development.  In the 80s I imagine this would be a vehicle for Judge Reinhold and Bette Midler...and maybe that would have been better? Who knows.

Identity Thief is perhaps not the major flop that many reviewers have claimed - I didn't know about that until I'd seen the reviews after watching, mind - but it is deeply forgettable.

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