In real life, it is likely a lot less funny and heartwarming of an experience as director Seth Gordon gives us in this film.
I had extremely high expectations for this film, based on my multiple viewings of the hilarious trailer. I knew full well going into it that the movie would demand suspension of disbelief in order for it to be an enjoyable experience, but I didn’t realize just how absurd the plot would become.
In part, this is due to a sporadic script, which cares more about jumping from joke to joke more than it cares about coherent character development.
In the opening scenes, we get a little background on Jason Bateman’s character, Sandy Bigelow Patterson. He has a loving wife and two wonderful daughters, but as in his last outing with Gordon, he has a horrible boss played by Jon Favreau.
A little bit of his character goes a long way, reaching for laughs in all the wrong places. At the very least, his only scene in the film sets up another facet of the plot later on.
Character development goes out the window for a majority of the film, as Sandy begins his quest to take down the woman who stole his identity. The plot is formulaic, as many road trip comedies usually are.
Eventually, Sandy gives into his own need to get back at his boss by resorting to Diana’s methods of identity theft. However, once the jig is up, Diana realizes after getting to know Sandy that ruining his life isn’t as fun as she thought it would be.
The one scene where we get some background on Diana is heartwarming, but sort of out of place in the larger context of the movie. The scene almost demands sympathy from the viewer for the character who has made Bateman’s life a living hell, and McCarthy’s undeniable acting chops make it very easy to feel sympathy for Diana.
Although we can tell that Diana is truly sorry by the film’s end for having stolen Sandy’s identity, it is still hard to excuse the fact that she stole his identity. It’s even harder to believe that not only is she forgiven, but that she becomes a friend of Sandy’s, and a role model for his kids!
Identify Thief is a film with some memorable and funny moments, but ultimately falls short of its full potential. I would still say it’s worth seeing in theatres if you’re a McCarthy fan, but otherwise, wait until it’s available on Netflix, or simply rent it.