Review: Identity Thief

Identity Thief: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy and a fluff-filled piece of light-hearted fun times. What could possibly go wrong? For starters, sexism, stupid storylines and hateful characters, says Lella Pelaou.

I had the displeasure of seeing Identity Thief recently, the newest film from Seth Gordon who (dis)graced the world with titles such as Four Christmases and Horrible Bosses.

From the trailer it was fair to assume that Identity Thief was going to be a light-hearted, shallow-plotted affair. With this kind of film, you can usually expect a few laughs, an enjoyable ride and some mind-numbing entertainment. This was something else entirely and not in a good way. When the entire story was given away in the very first shot, I was looking for the nearest exit.

I laughed once throughout the entire film. Once! Through all one hundred and eleven minutes of it. The writers rely enormously on cheap slapstick violence, the likes of which we’ve all seen in every single mainstream, light-hearted comedy that’s come before. You know the kind: heavy object to back of the head, face-planting on floor. There are also countless sexual innuendos throughout that just aren’t appreciated.

Importantly, if the character isn’t likeable then this kind of humour isn’t going to be either. There is a great effort to make villain Dawn Budgie (Melissa McCarthy) likeable. But she just wasn’t. The main reason being that hers is the kind of character that has been written countless times before. She’s the person that has done awful things that have ruined peoples’ lives, but she didn’t mean to hurt anybody. But she did. But maybe people will forgive her anyway. Shocking.

As it’s featuring Jason Bateman, you’d be forgiven for expecting him to bring something to the film, as he does in Hancock and Juno. Those were good choices for him; the stories were original and his characters amicable. Identity Thief, however, was a bad choice. Bateman’s character is transparent; he may as well not be there. He’s the typical enabler of events throughout the whole thing, even though somebody stole his identity and almost ruined his life.

One of the biggest issues of the film is its tremendous nonchalance towards its downright hatred for women. Without going on a tirade, it is shocking how many snide remarks and sexist slurs there are in this film, passed off as light hearted banter. There are countless jokes about Bateman losing his penis, by way of gunshot, and so he’s treated like shit and directed to the ladies’ bathroom (just to name one of the offensive scenes, there were many more).

Could the soundtrack be praised? Not even. Swagger Jagger by Cher Lloyd is used to imply that someone was super cool. And this isn’t humour. This is completely serious.

There are so many ridiculous aspects that ruined this film. Giving a confidential police document to a normal citizen? Okay, then. The highway a few miles from Orlando, one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations, is completely empty in the middle of the day? Sure, why not?! There’s suspending disbelief and there’s pissing off your audience with stupidity.

How many more comedies are going to turn into road buddy movies? Characters are pushed to extremes when put in a car with the person that they supposedly don’t like and hilarity ensues. All leading towards a predictable, annoying ending.

The moral of the story is trust your instincts with trailers and don’t bother. Keep your brain cells.

★☆☆☆☆

Lella Pelaou

 Identity Thief is out now.

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