In recent years, the road movie has become the official setting for many hit comedies. The road movie has been around almost as long as comedies themselves, with classics like Lucille Ball’s The Long, Long Trailer, John Hughes Planes, Trains and Automobiles, and in recent years The Hangover, Due Date, Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle and The Guilt Trip. The latest addition to the sub-genre is the Jason Bateman/Melissa McCarthy film Identity Thief.
Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) is hard working and underappreciated. Asked to process the bonus cheques for his bosses while he and his co-workers get nothing for the third year in a row, Sandy is fed up. After getting a call from a spa in Florida to confirm an appointment he never made, Sandy finds out his identity has been stolen and is being used for purchases and criminal activity in Florida. With the police unwilling to do anything about it, Sandy heads down to Florida on his own to catch the thief and bring her back to Colorado. The ensuing road trip may prove to be more than Sandy can handle, but Sandy is willing to do whatever it takes to get his life back.
Identity Thief is very similar to many other road trip movies, especially Due Date, but it really does have two great things going for it. Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy. The two get along really well and have great chemistry and timing together. The hi jinks are pretty much what you would expect but that doesn’t make them any less funny. The strange thing is, the first quarter of the film that sets up McCarthy’s Florida scams actually had me getting quite pissed off. We have all been through some kind of mistake with our credit cards or banking and seeing the character take advantage of people so nonchalantly was really infuriating. But once it kicks into full on comedy mode I was laughing the rest of the movie. Bateman is the ultimate straight man and utters some classic one liners here while remaining perfectly balanced opposite McCarthy’s improv style riffing. As usual, McCarthy is priceless here. As with many of her other roles, she infuses a sense of authenticity to her outrageous characters giving them real heart and even a couple of serious moments that take her character out of the realm of plain comic relief and into the world of more realistically grounded characters. Identity Thief may be full of stuff you have seen before, but it is done with style and good jokes just don’t get old.
The Blu-ray from Universal is a shining example of a studio comedy. Perfect color, clarity and detail are present throughout with a nice clean soundtrack. Identity Thief looks fantastic and is well worth your time.
Available June 4, 2013 on Blu-ray and DVD.