Since his cult raise to fame with TV's under-rated classic show Arrested Development, Jason Bateman seems to be stuck in the role of "put upon average Joe." This was perfectly shown in his Horrible Bosses role as out of the criss-cross would-be murderers, Bateman's was the most normal.
So, if it ain't broke... Director Seth Gordon reunites with his 2011's Horrible Bosses star to explore the all-too-real world of identity theft. Of course though, this being Gordon who's cut his teeth on the likes of Modern Family, The Office and Community, facts and seriousness aren't included here on the menu.
Instead, what we are given is what feels like a poor man's combination of Planes, Trains & Automobiles and Midnight Run. Now, on paper, that sounds like a match made in heaven - both being fantastic comedies of their generation that have stood up against the ravages of time. But here in practise, the result is less-than-impressive.
Mazin and Eeten's screenplay tries to recreate the mis-matched road travellers of Steve Martin vs John Candy (Planes, Trains and Automobiles) and Charles Grodin vs Robert DeNiro (Midnight Run). What doesn't help the wanna-be's Bateman vs McCarthy is the reason that they're thrown together in the first place on their cross-country road-trip. McCarthy's fraudster willingly goes with her mild-mannered mark from her Florida home where he has tracked her down, to his in Denver to help him keep his job that she's put in jeopardy. So we have to believe that the woman who has stolen his entire life wants to now save it. This just doesn't sit right despite the obvious nods to McCarthy being a broken heart that does what she does for friendship, so the storyline becomes irrelevant and thus the jokes are left to fend for themselves. Which doesn't really help them. Or the audience that much.
There are some nice touches thrown in here and there, but that's Identity Thief's problem - it's too sporadic for what should have been a balls-to-the-walls all-out comedy. Even with some humorous cameos - Modern Family's Eric Stonestreet, The Office's Ellie Kemper and Robert Patrick as a Terminator 2-esque bounty hunter - their appearances, and the laughs they add, are both fleeting and quickly forgotten.
Let's just hope the Horrible Bosses 2 sequel that Gordon and Bateman are in pre-production on doesn't hold back like this outing did.
UK release date: 22.03.13