Sunday, 25 August 2013

Identity Thief

Lowdown: The victim of identity theft goes on a road trip with its perpetrator.
As someone whose credit card details have been used to buy someone else the best of gadgets as well as Thailand internal flight, I can assure you identity theft is no nice thing. However, despite poor handling by the credit card company (American Express: you suck), the matter was quickly resolved without me bearing any of the costs. Not so for Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman), our hero for the duration of Identity Thief.
Whereas my details were taken off a website I bought stuff from, Sandy gives his away voluntarily to a prank call from Diana (Melissa McCarthy, of Bridesmaids fame). Diana’s a pro, and pretty quickly produces a multitude of credit cards and IDs bearing Sandy’s name and her likeliness. Shortly afterwards she goes on a spending frenzy, taking Sandy’s typical middle class family and middle class job off the rails just as Sandy is looking forward to a third child and a job that actually respects his talents. Now Sandy’s only hope of redeeming himself before the law so as to enable him to earn a living again is to go and get Diana from Florida, then bring her to confess at his Ohio. Sounds simple? He sets out on his adventure, only to find Diana’s life has gone off the rails, too. Eventually, while escaping chasers including the likes of Robert Patrick (filling that role since Terminator 2), they set out on a road trip back home to Ohio. And you know how road trips go: you meet people, often weird people; then things happen…
Obviously, Identity Thief’s biggest problem is that too much of it does not make sense. I realize consumer protection laws in the USA may be significantly less protective than they are in Australia, but still – surely, it is not as easy to derail someone’s life as Identity Thief claims it to be. It’s not just the core that’s flawed: we witness our heroes involved in traffic accidents on a highway and no one stops to help. We even see their car getting totally crashed by a semitrailer, and that semitrailer fails to stop either. Clearly, Identity Thief’s backbone is not designed to carry loads; it is designed as a tool for Jason Bateman to act Arrested Development style and for Melissa McCarthy to act Bridesmaids crazy. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
However, there is more to Identity Thief than a tool for two talented comedians to deliver their talent with. Sandy’s original boss (Jon Favreau) making a mockery of working people losing their job as he cashes a seven figure check makes a very social, Occupy style, statement that should ring many a bell at this post GFC era. There are also proper statements on matters of friendship and what counts in life. I have to say that these, coupled with the nicely flowing comedy, had their way on me. Even if the happy ending is all about Sandy being able to sort things out by landing a $250K a year pay check.
Best scene: While Diana has motel room sex with Big Chuck, a lacklustre bigot (Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet), Sandy has to segregate himself in the bathroom and go through all sorts of inventive ways to block the sound.
Overall: Starting with my sensitivity to identity theft, I can think of all sorts of reasons to explain why I liked Identity Thief as much as I did despite it not being a good film. I’ll settle with it being nice entertainment. 3 out of 5 stars.

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