Movie review: ‘Identity Thief’ steals plot from old road-trip formula
Set a straight-laced family man off on a cross-country journey with a mercurial mischief maker and you have the thoroughly predictable template for “Identity Thief,” an R-rated, knockabout road picture that neatly pairs nice-guy Jason Bateman with wacky raunch queen Melissa McCarthy.
It’s a formula that’s run its familiar course from 1987’s “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” (teaming bland Steve Martin with colorful John Candy) through 2010’s “Due Date” (with uptight Robert Downey Jr. and loosey-goosey Zach Galifianakis).
Taking off from the painfully unfunny premise of identity theft, this dicey comedy from director Seth Gordon (“Horrible Bosses”) and screenwriter Craig Mazin (“The Hangover Part II”) charts an unsurprising course over well-trod farcical territory – from harsh antagonism to saccharine reconciliation, with a lot of outrageous detours, loose-cannon pursuers and raunchy potholes along the way.
Bateman dons his affable, Everyman loafers to play Sandy Patterson, a Denver businessman with a lovely wife (Amanda Peet, woefully underused) and two generically cute daughters – with another on the way. But Sandy’s orderly, suburban life is thrown into ruin when his credit card is shredded one morning at a local gas station and police show up at his office accusing him of financial fraud and worse.
Turns out, halfway across the country in Florida, a portly, potty-mouthed scam artist named Diana (McCarthy in full party-hearty mode) has stolen Sandy’s identity, double-crossed a gang of drug dealers and run up a fortune in extravagant debt on forged credit cards. (This sets off a lame running gag about Sandy being an effeminate name. “It’s not,” he protests, “it’s metrosexual.”)
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