Effectively without merit, Seth Gordon’s (Horrible Bosses) tiresome Identity Thief still managed to make $172 million. Good news for Melissa McCarthy, I guess. Bad news for American comedy, though, as now Seth Gordon will continue to make movies.
Let’s begin with the premise which, even for a broad comedy, is unusually lacking in credibility. Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) is in middle management at an investment firm when his identity is stolen by a garishly painted woman named Diana (Melissa McCarthy). The police know that his identity has been stolen, but they tell Sandy that since the perpetrator is on the other side of the country that there’s nothing they can do. Wait, what? America isn’t The Dukes of Hazzard. Crossing an imaginary line does not save you from felony fraud. Whatever, moving on.
Even less probably, Sandy’s new boss (John Cho) at the hip, cool investment firm (which basically just looks like someone took an Apple store and festooned it with meaningless currency charts and a bunch of LCD TV’s playing CNBC) says that he can’t keep Sandy on the payroll because he has six defaulted credit cards – this despite the fact that the police just finished explaining that his identity had been stolen. “Yeah, sorry to hear about that hit and run that left you paralyzed from the waist down but… we’re going to have to let you go. I just can’t trust a man who could let himself get hit by a car.” But wait, there’s more.
Daniel, that’s Sandy’s boss, reluctantly agrees that if Sandy could somehow bring the thief to him in person to admit she was at fault for the credit cards then his name would be cleared. What? Why? Why does she have to be there in person? Why would he believe her even if she was? Why couldn’t Sandy just grab any woman and have her say it? Why wasn’t the police’s physical proof that Sandy’s identity had been stolen not enough for Daniel? Oh, wait, I know why. Because then we wouldn’t have our insultingly absurd MacGuffin.
The contempt the screenwriter (Craig Mazin, who also penned those modern classics Scary Movie 3, Scary Movie 4, and Superhero Movie) apparently has for his audience’s intelligence wouldn’t be an insurmountable problem if the script had a single joke that wasn’t picked from the lowest branch of an already short and tilted tree. Melissa McCarthy, who apparently made everyone in America except for me laugh by defecating into a sink in Bridesmaids, has graduated to vomiting impossibly neon green slime onto police officers in this film.
And that brings me to the worst part of this terrible movie: Melissa McCarthy. Look, I’m as happy as the next progressively minded man that an overweight woman is succeeding in an industry that usually requires pathological skinniness, and in comedy no less, which is often alleged to be a boy’s club. I think I can see the bones of a good comic actor in her too, but it’s hard to tell when the entirety of her comic palate is predicated on her fatness. Every joke in which she participates in this movie is some variation on the following reprehensible theme: “Ha! The very idea that a fat woman would X” wherein X is equal to: punch someone, outsmart someone, be sexually desirable to someone, or (gasp!) actually have sex. Bahahahahahah! Fat people having sex. Hilarious.
Actually, it isn’t, and that the director, writer, and even the actor herself apparently thought it was is sad, gross, and just as self-exploitative as a woman with a pneumatic body jumping up and down in her underwear and calling it a joke. This movie is disgusting. Steal a copy, then ritualistically destroy it.