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IDENTITY THIEF, THE

SYNOPSIS:
Mild-mannered businessman Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) travels from Denver to Miami to confront the deceptively harmless-looking Diana (Melissa McCarthy) who has been living it up after stealing Sandy's identity.

Review by Louise Keller:
There's probably a funny film buried somewhere deep within this concept of a morally corrupt protagonist, whose compulsion to steal identities finds her facing off with the man whose identity she has stolen, but this isn't it. It's a pity, as the film's odd-couple stars, the delightfully dimpled Melissa McCarthy and clean-cut Jason Bateman, have great appeal and given the right screenplay and direction, it might have worked. But Hangover 2 screenwriter Craig Mazin's script plays like an overblown TV sitcom desperately seeking laughs like a prostitute chasing tricks, and Horrible Bosses director Seth Gordon has totally misjudged the material and tone, resulting in a farcical road movie with a terminal puncture and no repair-shop in sight.

While the other recent road movie, The Guilt Trip, may have teetered between the road and the wilderness, at least there were moments in which we could identify with Seth Rogan and Barbra Streisand's characters and their conflicts. The Identity Thief flings in-your-face overblown humour at every turn - from the crass to the ridiculous, and always beyond the realms of credibility. That's not to say there are no amusing moments. The set up at The Foxhole, when Diana (McCarthy) lassoes Big Chuck (Eric Stonestreet) over Melon Balls and tequila and entices him back to the motel where she and Sandy (Bateman) are sharing a room (by necessity) has potential, even if squashed by the overkill. Squash is the operative word.

The film begins by establishing the credentials of its two key characters. Sandy is a hard-working, conscientious husband and father of two in Colorado who plays life by the rules; Diana is a compulsive liar, cheat and user from Florida, who relishes in compromising the lives of the people whose identities she steals. The over-the-top nature of the way she makes an exhibition of herself is indicative of her oversized physical presence and McCarthy milks every scene. By the time Sandy discovers his credit cards have been compromised and the fraud squad is after him, there's no option but to head to Florida himself and try to bring the unrepentant Diana back - to save his job, his reputation and get his life back. Also in pursuit is a desperate-looking bounty-hunter (Robert Patrick) and assassins (music rapper, T.I., singer Genesis Rodriguez). Amanda Peet plays Sandy's loving wife; a puffy Jon Favreau is his boss - both are thankless roles.

The scene in which Sandy and Diana come face to face for the first time starts off well enough with a rather novel idea (turning defence into attack), but the opportunity is quickly thrown away as farce overtakes it. The development of their relationship is badly conceived from the beginning - how can we believe the man whose life is compromised is essentially making friends with the woman responsible? To add insult to injury, there is a sob-story thrown in for good measure - although anyone who swallows it is the perfect audience for this film.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

IDENTITY THIEF, THE (MA15+)
(US, 2013)

CAST: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Jon Favreau, Amanda Peet, T.I., Genesis Rodriguez, Morris Chestnut, John Cho, Mary Charles Jones, Maggie Elizabeth Jones

PRODUCER: Jason Bateman, Pamela Abdy, Scott Stuber

DIRECTOR: Seth Gordon

SCRIPT: Craig Mazin (story by Mazin & Jerry Eeten)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Javier Aquirresarobe

EDITOR: Peter Teschner

MUSIC: Christopher Lennertz

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Shepherd Frankel

RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Universal

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 4, 2013







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