Identity Thief is a guilty pleasure comedy for me. I wasn't exactly expecting much considering the awful reviews from critics and the mixed response from audiences, but I found myself pleasantly surprised by this aloof comedy. It's messy and can be unfocused at times, but it has a breezy and fun charm to it that wouldn't allow me to hate it. It'll never be a classic, and it'll be forgotten a short time down the road in future years, but it's a pleasant, funny, and fun ride.
Diana is a con artist who buys whatever she wants with the identities she steals. One day, she steals from a man named Sandy Patterson after posing as someone working for his credit card company. Once she gets his identity, she wreaks havoc on his credit and his life.
Sandy's life is about to change for what he hopes is for the better, especially with a wife and two daughters, with another child on the way. He quits his job at a financial company along with a number of other co-workers so they can start their own firm. There's a hitch in his plans, though, when his card is declined when trying to buy gas and is suddenly arrested on his way to work for an outstanding warrant in another state. Though it's determined he didn't do it and this identity was stolen, things continue to go badly for him once he does get to work and his boss finds out that he now has 240 credit score and a mountain of debt which not reflect well on their budding company. This is immediately followed by the police searching the office building for drugs and ammunition when his name turns up in connection with drug dealers in another state.
Desperate to repair his life and save his job, Sandy decides to go to Florida and bring in the woman who stole his identity, whether she likes it or not. Though he does manage to track her down, their first encounter ends with her striking him the throat, stealing his car, and ramming the side of her car (Which he takes cover in) and trapping him inside. However, he finds information in the glove box of the car and tracks her down to her home.
Another fight breaks out, but the two find themselves stuck together when the drug dealers Diana pissed off shoot open the door and plan to kill her and now Sandy, since he's with her. Now with pissed off drug dealers and a bounty hunter on their tail, the duo end up going on a wild and crazy road trip while striking up an unusual friendship in the midst of all the shenanigans they find themselves caught in.
While the story follows a number of the routine road trip cliches, it does manage to make it feel fresh and lively. It's no Thelma & Louise, but it's a fine and entertaining road trip story with two great actors getting caught in over the top scenarios. I also enjoyed how the script took its time in developing these two characters, especially Diana with the heartbreaking dinner scene at a hotel near the end of the film. While the script does a lot right, there are times when tonally it becomes confused whether to be over the top campy, or dramatic. Sometimes, it can't find a proper balance of these elements, making it feel messy at times. There are also times when subplots cause the film to wander a bit. Still, the script, while shaky at times, is competently written and quite funny.
The acting is pretty solid across the board, though the two leads, Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy steal the show with their roles, though their characters are very different from one another. Most of the other characters aren't particularly memorable, but the others do a fine job, though they are ultimately in the shadows of the two leads.
As far as humor goes, this film is indeed pretty funny. While the script can be messy, the humor is consistently funny, including moments that had me laughing hard. However, sometimes the film struggles with balancing different types of comedy, making some scenes feel uneven, especially with comedy that ranges from over the top screwball to dramatic comedy, which can case the tone to feel unbalanced. Still, I was laughing a lot, which I should be doing in a comedy.
Overall Identity Thief is a fun, but flawed comedy. I think it's much better than what critics gave it credit for, but there are undeniable flaws to found. But thanks to funny humor, a solid script, and excellent acting by the two leads who have terrific chemistry together, this film holds up.