"IDENTITY THIEF" — ★★½ — Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Amanda Peet, Jon Favreau; R (sexual content and language); in general release
"Identity Thief" is a study in cinematic excess. The word that facilitates my thoughts on the film is "too." Too many plotlines, too sexual, too many stereotypes, too frenetic, too little redemption. And the movie is too long — and you feel it.
Jason Bateman stars as Sandy Patterson, a great, solid guy who works hard; he's a great employee and loves his growing family.
Amanda Peet is Sandy's wife, Trish, who supports her husband in all that he does.
Sadly, his boss is a total jerk and a little company rebellion turns into a full-blown defection that forms a new company with our hero as a newly minted vice president. Everything is going great — until a case of identity theft threatens everything.
It all comes to a head when Sandy is arrested on an outstanding warrant in Florida, and he lives in Denver! Finally, when documents arrive from the Sunshine State, the Sandy Patterson pictured is a middle-aged woman. This Sandy is played by Melissa McCarthy, aka Diana.
His new boss, a good guy, informs him the firm can't handle anything that appears to be financial impropriety. Sandy asks for one week to straighten everything out and heads south to bring Diana back to Denver for justice.
What follows is a road trip that makes the old movie "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" look like a National Geographic documentary.
Getting Diana, who is somewhat "gifted" in her chosen path as a con woman, to return with Sandy is not easy. She is tough. But just when things look hopeless, others, including two hit men — ah, well, there's one hit man and one hit woman — are unleashed on Diana by a mob.
Suddenly, leaving town with Sandy doesn't look so bad. Add to all of this a semi-crazed bounty hunter who is hot on the trail and well, as I said at the beginning, it's just too much.
Sure, there are some very funny moments, and Bateman really delivers. McCarthy always plays her characters over-the-top and this one soars and yes, in total, it's too much, especially in a sex romp with a lonely widower in a motel room. Whoa!
With a little restraint and a little editing, this could have been a really fun film, and I have to admit that the concluding scenes got me.
"Identity Thief" is rated R for sexual content and language; running time: 110 minutes.