Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Identity Thief

Anyone who has ever been the victim of credit card fraud or had their identity stolen entirely will “identify" with the character Jason Bateman plays in Identity Thief. The helplessness of such fraud is exacerbated by the monolith of modern technology. A series of erroneous transactions may be instigated by a criminal, but once they’ve occurred, they take on a life of their own. Bateman who plays a mid-level financial services executive named Sandy Bigelow Patterson is lucky or unlucky enough to have discovered the face of evil, a woman criminal played by Melissa McCarthy, of Bridesmaids fame, who has used his androgynous name to her own benefit. Identity Thief is what Hollywood calls a high concept movie. but it’s a mess that lulls its audience into a stupor as it struggles to set up an unwieldy plot. The script is lead. However, what’s interesting about it is that it’s classic Americana in the style of Preston Sturges’ Sullivan’s Travels. In Sullivan’s Travels a film director dresses up as a hobo to see how the other half lives and ends up finding himself thrown into prison on a trumped up murder charge. In Identify Thief, Bateman sets out to restore his good name and ends up becoming an accomplice to fraud, taking the cue from a sociopath who convinces him the ends justify the means and that certain people deserve what’s coming to them. So it’s not thievery, but the more profound question of identity itself that’s the lingua franca of the movie. The Melissa McCarthy character is significantly an orphan who has never known her real name. Would that these interesting concepts had been handled in a less cumbersome manner. One after another the conceits unfold, along with an overabundance of plot threads. Sandy is not the only one in hot pursuit of his double, who turns out to be a fraudster with a heart of gold. A collection agent and two hired killers are part of the pile up that sidetracks this tepid addition to the road movie genre.

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