On paper, Identity Thief sounds like a promising comedy: Normal guy Sandy Bigelow Patterson (Jason Bateman) discovers that a Florida woman named Diana (Melissa McCarthy) has been stealing his identity and gotten him into crippling credit card debt and run out on a court date. Once he tracks her down, he has only a week to bribe, cajole, and wrangle her back to Denver to clear his name. The cast includes Eric Stonestreet and rapper T.I., and the producers’ IMDb pages list recent comedies like Horrible Bosses and Ted.
But then the first trailer came out, and despite the relevant premise and talent involved, it just doesn’t look that funny. The jokes seem really one-note, and while it’s funny to see Melissa beat up Jason, the fact that it happened twice just in the trailer means we’ve either already had that surprise ruined, or else they’re gonna beat that gag senseless in the movie itself. And these are two incredibly skilled comedians! Of course we’ve loved Jason’s deadpan delivery on Arrested Development – and hey, he wasn’t awful in The Change-Up last year — and Melissa should be able to do no wrong.
Jason is basically playing Michael Bluth here, as the straight man trying to wrest back his control from an impossible situation. Meanwhile, Melissa seems to blend the brusqueness we loved of her butch Bridesmaids character Megan with the shamelessness of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo‘s Mama June Shannon, despite not knowing who that was when she shot this movie.
Like I said, there’s a lot of promise here: Here is a comedy about two incredibly average people, both trying to keep afloat in this bad economy. One of them just uses illegal methods to do so. But instead of any sort of commentary, it looks like we’ll just be treated to eighteen-wheelers slamming into rental cars and probably more fart jokes from Melissa. Yeah, I think I’m gonna skip this in lieu of her more exciting projects This Is 40 and The Heat.
Identity Thief comes out February 8, 2013.
Photo: Universal Pictures