Identity Thief [Blu-Ray] Seth Gordon

Identity Thief [Blu-Ray] Seth Gordon
2
Since, in the world of Identity Thief, expository plot points and comedy are two entirely different things, the plot set-up and character-defining preamble are played straight, suggesting that this constructed universe is intended as a moderately accurate form of reality. Before the opening credits finish rolling, we understand that corporate lackey Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) is a bit too uptight, playing by the rules even though they aren't necessarily looking out for his best interests. Diana is introduced on the phone, conducting a vishing scam on Sandy and resultantly going on a spending spree, buying drinks for a bar full of strangers in a transparent effort to gain validation. And, as a pointed comment from a wise bartender asserts, she has no identity, hence her appropriation of those belonging to others, making the title that much wittier. How Diana managed to skim Sandy's credit cards from a different state or via a vishing scam without signing up as a secondary account holder or simply submitting a true name fraud application to a financial institution is never really explained. Similarly, why Sandy's bank and the police promptly put the onus on him, despite there being clear proof of duplication on his card and an indemnity process in place for all of North America, is also avoided. It aids the Midnight Run plot, however, setting Sandy on a legally vague road trip to drag Diana back to his home state, where her confession will lead to his financial and criminal freedom. Understanding that this set-up and literally every plot point established early in the film has absolutely no logic, it might have made more sense to make a joke out of the sheer stupidity of it all. Instead, director Seth Gordon goes as broad as possible, making comedy out of things like Melissa McCarthy running down a street or Jason Bateman smashing her in the head with a guitar after she throat punches him. Normally, the idea of a woman routinely having the shit kicked out of her for laughs wouldn't sit well with a mainstream audience, but since McCarthy is overweight, it's funny. Similarly, much of how McCarthy's sexuality is presented suggests terrifying solipsism on the part of Gordon and his knuckle-drugging cohorts. Her advances on Sandy are played as predatory, just as her flirtations with her skip-tracer (Robert Patrick) — another narrative vagary in itself — once he's tied up, are portrayed as monstrous. This is particularly evident when a later scene has her telling Sandy's wife (Amanda Peet) that even though she was with her husband on the road for several days, staying in motel rooms and occasionally engaging in car chases on public highways, he didn't make a move on her. The joke here is how inconceivable it is that that Jason Bateman might want something as contextually revolting as Melissa McCarthy when he has an emaciated wife sitting at home. And while witnessing a production with such a shockingly limited worldview strive for comedy — something that relies on stepping outside of the status quo or addressing the irony of any given situation — is hilarious for reasons unintended by the filmmakers, there's something so incoherent, patronizing and flat-out bad about Identity Thief that even derision becomes a moot point. Quite possibly the only funny thing in the entire film shows up in the outtakes, with McCarthy throwing up in a parking lot after a night of drinking and sex, stating, "I woke up with a ribbon tied around my left tit." She's a funny woman that can do far better than being mocked and insulted by a bunch of Republican idiots. (Universal)