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‘Identity Thief’ steals precious time

Article Published: Feb. 21, 2013 | Modified: Feb. 21, 2013
‘Identity Thief’ steals precious time

Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman star in 'Identity Thief.'

I once had my identity stolen by some overzealous Zairians with a penchant for Kodak film and big-and-tall men’s stores.

My checking account was littered with these bizarre, sundry purchases, reducing my already meager funds to nil and resulting in one of the worst months I can remember.

Yet I found more to laugh at then than in the entire duration of the so-called comedy, “Identity Thief.”

Despite a solid cast, a stellar director and a flexible R rating, the film just isn’t funny. In place of laughs, we get an absurd premise, a boring screenplay and abysmal pacing. “Identity Thief” doesn’t just kill time. It tortures it first.

Jason Bateman (TV’s “Arrested Development”) is mild-mannered Colorado businessman Sandy Patterson, whose identity is stolen by Diana (Melissa McCarthy, “Bridesmaids”), an obnoxious, big-haired yokel from Florida, who wastes no time racking up debt in Sandy’s name.

A remarkably unhelpful detective (Morris Chestnut, “Think Like a Man”) refuses to be of assistance – even after identifying the culprit and the exact place she’ll be at an exact time – but agrees to help if Sandy, on his own volition, transports Diana from Florida to Colorado.

Furthermore, he has to do this in a week, or his irrationally non-understanding boss (John Cho, “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle”) will fire him.

Of course, his implausible mission isn’t going to be that easy – for Sandy or the audience.

With Diana in his custody, the two must drive across the country, during which they encounter all sorts of road-trip movie setbacks, including a grizzled bounty hunter (Robert Patrick, “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”), some poorly animated snakes and a couple of hired goons (rapper T.I. and Genesis Rodriguez, “Casa de mi Padre”), who seem to come from a plot thread abandoned in post-production.

It’s a mess of a movie, despite its strict adherence to formula. These are all tired jokes we’ve seen or heard before in other movies, and when “Identity Thief” resorts to fat jokes at McCarthy’s expense, it can only go downhill.

Unfortunately, it’s a long way to the bottom of the hill. The pacing is horrific, dragging viewers along from one improbable situation to the next, making the seemingly innocuous 111-minute runtime seem twice that length.

“Identity Thief” is not without surprises, though, primarily in that it was directed by the exceptional Seth Gordon, who brought us the fantastic documentary, “The King of Kong,” as well as the hilarious “Horrible Bosses.”

Then again, maybe it wasn’t. Perhaps Gordon agreed to finance the exiled King of Nigeria’s coup d’état with his Social Security number and Discover card.

“Identity Thief,” rated R for sexual content and language, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. For show times, visit

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