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Identity Thief: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet Review (Unrated & Theatrical)

Identity Thief (2013) movie poster Identity Thief

Theatrical Release: February 8, 2013 / Running Time: 111 Minutes (Theatrical), 121 Minutes (Unrated) / Rating: R, Unrated

Director: Seth Gordon / Writers: Craig Mazin (story & screenplay); Jerry Eeten (story)

Cast: Jason Bateman (Sandy Bigelow Patterson), Melissa McCarthy (Diana), Jon Favreau (Harold Cornish), Amanda Peet (Trish Patterson), Tip "T.I." Harris (Julian), Genesis Rodriguez (Marisol), Morris Chestnut (Detective M. Reilly), John Cho (Daniel Casey), Robert Patrick (Skiptracer), Eric Stonestreet (Big Chuck), Jonathan Banks (Paolo "Paul" Gordon), Mary-Charles Jones (Franny Patterson), Maggie Elizabeth Jones (Jessie Patterson), Ben Falcone (Tony the Motel Desk Clerk), Matthew Burke (Ken Talbott), Carlos Navarro (Luis the Gas Station Attendant), Steve Witting (Carl the Bus Station Attendant), Ellie Kemper (Flo the Waitress - uncredited)

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A teenaged heartthrob in sitcoms long ago, Jason Bateman's career revival via television's most persistent cult classic show paved the way for him to become one of the most employable straight men in big screen comedy. After more than a dozen years in the business, Melissa McCarthy is a current CBS sitcom star, though one arguably better known for her Oscar-nominated breakout film role, playing the crude wild card Megan in the smash hit Bridesmaids.
The two actors are each in their early forties and of comparable present fame, but Bateman is nine inches taller and at least fifty pounds lighter. Thus, if they were going to make a 2013 movie together as co-leads, it could only be a road trip buddy comedy. And it is.

Identity Thief finds Diana (McCarthy), a poorly-fashioned, obese Winter Park, Florida resident effortlessly claiming the identity of Denver financial worker and family man Sandy Bigelow Patterson (Bateman). Posing as a creditor offering to enroll him in a free fraud protection program, Diana gets Sandy to supply her with his full name, birthdate, and social security number. Instants later, she's off and running, racking up thousands of dollars in extravagant yet simple spending sprees. Sandy realizes something is wrong when his credit card is denied on a routine gas fill-up. Things are about to get a lot worse when Sandy is pulled over and arrested for missing a court date. The confusion is cleared up with a faxed mug shot, but the charges of assault and public intoxication are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to seasoned ID thief Diana's troubles.

Sandy's identity theft couldn't have come at a worse time. With two young daughters and another on the way, he and his wife Trish (Amanda Peet) are struggling to make ends meet on his $50,000 annual salary. Plus, he's just taken a chance on the seemingly spontaneous idea of a colleague (John Cho) to launch a new firm, where a much higher paying VP position comes with a lot greater risk. The colleague is understandably uncomfortable with police officers showing up at his new workplace on the first day, but generously (and outlandishly) gives Sandy one week to clear his name. That seems to be the only viable option for the middle-aged man, between the jurisdictional red tape and low success rate admitted by the Denver detective (Morris Chestnut) handling the case.

Sandy Bigelow Patterson (Jason Bateman) finds himself having to drive cross-country with Diana (Melissa McCarthy), the woman who stole his identity and is now singing "Milkshake."

That preposterous premise sends Sandy, undeterred by Diana's photo and stats, off to Florida to confront, apprehend, and turn in the woman who has exploited his unisex name to upend his life. Naturally, Diana puts up a fight and, given the R rating, one that involves some colorful profanity. The milquetoast businessman seems to be the least of Diana's threats. She's also being hunted by a couple of deadly criminal associates (rapper Tip "T.I." Harris and Genesis Rodriguez) following orders of a prison inmate (Jonathan Banks) and an old school Skiptracer (Robert Patrick) looking to collect a bounty. Since their matching identities would presumably trigger some red flags at the airport, Sandy and Diana are forced to embark on a cross-country road trip.

That familiar design invites comparisons to some of my all-time favorite comedy films, including Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Midnight Run, and Tommy Boy. Identity Thief doesn't come close to being in the same league as those road trip flicks. It's more on the order of the Jennifer Aniston/Gerard Butler action romcom The Bounty Hunter or less inspired body swap comedies (like Bateman's The Change-Up), although this obviously offers a more feasible variation on that fantasy film fixture. Not that Identity Thief does much with its contemporary, relevant premise. Diana hits the mall, sips down Orange Juliuses, and fills her house with inessential goods, but Sandy's troubles are short-lived and quickly sorted out. Films like Planes, Trains and Midnight Run place a series of believable obstacles in the path of their dissimilar duo, causing them to clash and requiring them to stick together in imaginative ways.

Identity Thief offers very little of that. Diana improbably, willfully stays in Sandy's custody, although subjecting him to watching and hearing her have sex with a southern stranger ("Modern Family"'s Eric Stonestreet) and earning pity from stories that involve Sandy losing his genitals in freak accidents.

Big Chuck (Eric Stonestreet) likes what he sees in Diana (Melissa McCarthy). Deadly criminals (Tip "T.I." Harris and Genesis Rodriguez) pursue our comic duo.

McCarthy presents more than enough evidence for her to remain a leading lady (the only plus-sized one in Hollywood). She's one of the funniest actresses working in film today (an easy declaration given limited film opportunities for comediennes) and she amuses in different and unpredictable ways. Across from her, Bateman is on autopilot, which makes him relatable and likable enough but not much more than that, as his character repeatedly displays questionable judgment. The two aren't given enough chemistry or charm to carry the film as they are asked to. This journey could desperately use some comic relief or even just interesting supporting characters,
especially as Identity Thief makes the regrettable decision to give its felon a sob backstory and a heart of gold. As both writer-director and merely producer, Judd Apatow has been a master in injecting R-rated comedies with heart, but it's not an easy task, as this unassociated film demonstrates with its final act failings.

Being short on laughs isn't necessarily a death knell for a comedy (for instance, I enjoyed The Hangover Part III for the breezy adventure it is). But, Identity Thief doesn't have enough to supplement its unfunny gags, stale design, and disposable supporting cast. Of course, the film doesn't dare ask us to buy Bateman and McCarthy as a romantic couple. While that'd be a stretch of the plot worthy of groans, it would also be a dramatic reversal of typical sitcom casting. Even "Mike & Molly" doesn't challenge that convention, pairing McCarthy with an even larger man. Bateman and McCarthy are no more likely to fall for one another than Martin and Candy, De Niro and Grodin, or Harold and Kumar. Regardless of that, it is troubling how many jokes you could explain with "Because she's fat!" McCarthy doesn't shy from that kind of comedy, nor can she if she expects a sustainable high-profile career. Nonetheless, it's lazy, tired comedy that doesn't really cut it nowadays.

Or maybe it does, because Identity Thief was easily the top-grossing film of 2013's first two months. Its $134.5 million and counting domestic take is Bateman's biggest outside of Hancock and Juno and not too far shy of Bridesmaids' head-turning total. Even only adding $38.7 M from foreign markets, this stands as a huge success on a budget of just $35 million. McCarthy seems to be enjoying the kind of career boost that her Hangover III love interest Zach Galifianakis has enjoyed, although her gender gives her much longer odds for success and, with Kristen Wiig opposed to writing Bridesmaids 2, she doesn't have surefire sequels to fall back on. The next big test of McCarthy's public appeal comes at the end of this month, as she and Sandra Bullock play mismatched cops in The Heat, an R-rated action buddy comedy directed by Bridesmaids' Paul Feig.

In the meantime, Identity Thief hits DVD and a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet combo pack this week from Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Both editions present the film in both its R-rated 111-minute theatrical cut and an unrated extended one running nine minutes and 3 seconds longer. The latter adds a scene of the departing traders making their pitch and Sandy joining them, Sandy being shown to his office at the new venture by his receptionist, more side-of-the-road bickering, and extensions to Jon Favreau's scene, Robert Patrick's salon skiptracing, Ellie Kemper's uncredited restaurant waitressing, and Sandy's ride up to his old office. The unobjectionable reinsertions render Sandy's job change less abrupt and soften some of Patrick's edge, but two hours is a lot of time for such a comedy. Kudos to Universal for using branching to provide both edits on both Blu-ray and DVD, even if the results, as usual, aren't terribly different.

Identity Thief: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.35:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), DTS 5.1 (French, Spanish); DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish); Both: Theatrical cut only: Dolby Surround 2.0 (Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Extras Subtitled; Not Closed Captioned
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Suggested Retail Price: $34.98
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (1 BD-50 & 1 DVD-9)
Blue Keepcase in embossed Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($29.98 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Identity Thief has plenty of problems, but its Blu-ray feature presentation isn't one of them. The film looks sharp, clean, and vibrant in the 2.35:1 transfer. Meanwhile, the crisp 5.1 DTS-HD master audio mix has plenty of life to it and a bit of fitting directionality.

Unused Melissa McCarthy ad libs are preserved in the "Alternate Takes" reel. A boom operator captures clean dialogue recordings of highway Bateman and McCarthy banter in "The Making of 'Identity Thief.'"

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

For a movie so successful at the box office, Identity Thief gets surprisingly little in the way of bonus features, although the Blu-ray presents each of them in high definition. There aren't even any deleted scenes beyond the ones reinserted to the extended cut,
which characteristically (but annoyingly) aren't available to see on their own.

First up is a gag reel (0:48) almost too short to be believed. Next and better, we get alternate takes (5:07), which show off unused lines, bits and ad libs, more Melissa McCarthy vomiting, and additional cultural references (including one to B.J. Armstrong).

"The Making of Identity Thief" (17:04) is a standard puff piece that details the origins and then moves to celebrating all the cast members, and touching on topics like making a road trip movie almost entirely in Georgia and filming action scenes and stunts.

"Scene Stealing: Capturing the Humor of Identity Thief" (7:35) pours additional praise on the stars, as everyone talks up the film and addresses the thrills of improvisation, the challenges of physically demanding scenes, and trying their hardest not to break up.

The Skiptracer's Van Tour has Robert Patrick show us around the vehicle he dubs "The Rolling Turd." In character as gas station attendant Luis, Carlos Navarro talks about his job and his Papi in this Easter egg.

Finally, "The Skiptracer's Van Tour" (3:33) has Robert Patrick providing a humorless, boring in-character tour of his bounty hunter's vehicle.

Digging around the disc, I found an apparent Easter egg,
a clip (2:20) featuring Carlos Navarro in character as gas station attendant Luis talking about his Cuban "Papi" and his job experiences.

The same DVD sold on its own, the combo pack's second disc includes both cuts of the film, the gag reel, and "Making of."

The final component of the combo pack -- an authorization code for iTunes and UltraViolet downloads -- surfaces in the lone insert inside the keepcase topped by an embossed slipcover.

The discs open with trailers for Admission, "Suits": Season 2, The Host, and Despicable Me 2. A Previews submenu adds short home video ads for Bridesmaids, The Change-Up, Paul, Couples Retreat, Hit & Run, Get Him to the Greek, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and Knocked Up.

On Blu-ray and DVD alike, the main menu plays a standard, scored montage of clips and the Blu-ray strangely and unusually neither supports bookmarks nor resumes playback for a powered-off player. On the plus side, it is equipped with Universal's uHear feature, a nifty tool that clarifies an unheard line with a short rewind and temporary display of subtitles which ought to be a format-wide standard.

A drunken, disorderly Diana (Melissa McCarthy) winds up taking an unflattering Nick Nolte-esque mug shot on the birthday of her assumed identity, Sandy Patterson.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Wielding a formula as reliable as the road trip buddy comedy and actors as talented as Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy, Identity Thief should be a lot more entertaining than it is. The film has some funny moments, but not enough to hang on to your interest and sympathy through its pitiful idea of a feel-good ending.

The Blu-ray combo pack provides two presentable cuts of the film, all the formats you could want, and a light but sufficient collection of additional extras at a reasonable list price. If you enjoy the movie, you are likely to be satisfied by this release. But I wouldn't count on you enjoying the movie, even if you think you will.

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Melissa McCarthy: The Hangover Part III The Back-up Plan Samantha Who?: The Complete First Season Life As We Know It
Directed by Seth Gordon: Four Christmases | Written by Craig Mazin: Senseless The Hangover Part II
Eric Stonestreet: Modern Family: The Complete First Season | Genesis Rodriguez: Casa De Mi Padre
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Reviewed June 3, 2013.



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