It ruins millions of Americans’ lives every year. And that’s not counting just the people that get their credit card info swiped and charges rung up without them even knowing it.
When it happened to me, it took about two months before I could use my card again, which is annoying to say the least.
But just like everything in life that can wreck a person’s existence, it’s pure comedic fodder for Hollywood.
Jason Bateman (“Juno,” “Horrible Bosses”) plays Sandy Patterson, a normal everyman trying to raise a family of two with his pregnant wife and a crappy job where no one respects him, especially his boss.
One day, he answers a phone call and learns that his identity was almost stolen and that he can sign up to a prevention program for free.
So, Patterson, being the gullible type, signs up and gives all of his personal information to the person on the other line.
The person on the opposite end of the phone is none other than Melissa McCarthy’s (“Bridesmaids”, “Mike & Molly”) Diane, who uses Bateman’s unisex name, Sandy, as a way to steal his identity.
Diane goes on a shopping spree that would make Paris Hilton blush, buying everything from jet skis to massaging recliners, all on Patterson’s bill.
She also runs up thousands of dollars at a bar, buying round after round for everyone in the place.
She gets out of control and gets arrested.
Meanwhile, Patterson, feeling that his job is going nowhere, decides to join some co-workers who are leaving the company to form their own financial management firm.
But when the firm discovers that Patterson’s credit is shot and that he has a warrant for his arrest, he discovers that someone is pretending to be him and making a mess out of the life he so carefully micromanaged. That’s when he decides to take matters in to his own hands and bring Diane in on his own.
Oh, and throw in a couple of gangsters that she double-crossed and a crazy old bounty hunter hot on their trail just for good measure.
Jason Bateman plays the normal, down-on-his-luck husband very well.
In fact, he and Paul Rudd have made a late career out of it.
He plays it straight, which is his forte, and meshes well with McCarthy’s style of over-the-top physical humor.
Melissa McCarthy seemingly came out of nowhere when she did “Bridesmaids,” but she did have the TV show “Mike & Molly” (I have still yet to watch an episode) already going strong.
She’s almost the female equivalent of Chris Farley; she just needs a few more movies to cement her in that aspect.
The movie as a whole is just your basic, run-of- the-mill comedy. Nothing really stands out, and it seems the picture was made because all the talent involved had a few months open in their schedules.
But that doesn’t make it bad – just bland.
The jokes are only made funny by the two leads, who play great together.
The director, Seth Gordan, made a masterpiece of cinema once upon a time with his documentary “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters” about a husband hellbent on beating the all-time Donkey Kong arcade record.
Now that is what he should be doing. The drama he captured in that documentary is far better than anything he’s done after.
He’s seemingly become a gun for hire, shooting mediocre comedies like “Four Christmases” and “Horrible Bosses,” which, in their own right, aren’t bad features. They just seem wasted on him as a very talented storyteller.
As I mentioned before, the story is basic. Once the movie starts, you can guess where it’ll end up and how everything will eventually tie together in a neat little bow with everyone learning life lessons and a little more about themselves.
There are a few cameos that did make the audience laugh.
One of the gangsters who’s chasing the duo is none other than rapper T.I., who turns out to be quite hilarious, even though he’s relegated to a few moronic quips sprinkled throughout the film.
The old lunatic bounty hunter is played with deranged zeal by Robert Patrick of “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” fame.
Let’s just say the actor has seen better days, but he still drew many laughs with every appearance he made in the movie.
And then there’s John Cho, Harold of “Harold and Kumar” fame, who...well, he doesn’t do much except play the founder of the new company and Patterson’s new boss.
Who says he can’t play a regular guy every once in a while?
Overall, the movie’s enjoyable.
The twists and turns can be seen from a mile away, but the acting is solid.
The humor is there in spades, even if the plot hits and misses.
But, let’s be real. You don’t go to see a comedy like this and expect to be blown away by the story elements or plot points.
It’s a fun jaunt underutilizing a grade-A cast, but it gets the job done.
On the other hand, I can’t wait for Bateman to return to “Arrested Development” territory, where he’s given some real meat to chew on and some solid, unconventional comedy bits to swallow.
The two leads in the film are well worth the price of admission, so do yourself the favor of catching them together in this, because they may never be seen on screen together again.
Unless a sequel’s on the horizon.
It did pretty decent box office numbers this weekend, so you never know.
“Identity Thief” is playing at the Rio 6 Cinemas in Beeville.
Paul Gonzales is the entertainment writer at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 116, or at thescene@mySouTex.com.