An Entertaining Comedy

Seth Gordon, director of last year’s comedy Horrible Bosses, and its co-star Jason Bateman team up once again for Identity Thief, also starring Melissa McCarthy, whose performance in Bridesmaids paid off at the box office.

McCarthy plays an amoral female con-artist whose specialty is credit fraud, and Bateman plays Sandy Patterson, a trusting Denver-based account executive that becomes her hapless victim.

When Patterson’s credit cards are declined all hell begins to break loose. The bills start flowing in for purchases made in Florida, and when the police come to arrest him for fraud at his office, his employers are eager to fire him on the spot.

However, a mug shot of the woman who has appropriated his name and identity, and is ultimately arrested in Florida, convinces police that he is not the perpetrator. Clearing his name with his employers is more difficult, however, and the local police are not much help. The woman has been released, but in order to make the charges stick she would have to come under Denver jurisdiction.

Patterson comes up with a scheme to fly Diana, one of the woman’s many aliases, to Denver and extract a confession from her on the pretext that he will not notify authorities. Duplicitous as his plan is, his company grudgingly gives him a week’s absence to go to Florida and back, before they fire him.

Diana proves resourceful and cunning, easily giving him the slip a number of times, before they are eventually thrown together in a harrowing road trip back to Colorado. A sort of Stockholm syndrome scenario begins to develop, as victim and aggressor flee for their lives. They are pursued on the one hand by a ruthless skiptracer, who considers himself a bounty hunter who will stop at nothing to capture Diana.

On the other hand they are chased by a sinister couple, under the direction of an imprisoned criminal mastermind who has been burnt by Diana’s sale of useless, expired credit cards.

Much of it borders on the implausible, but Identity Thief moves along well, and is entertaining enough. Director Gordon has a good comic sense, and the interplay between the understated Bateman’s gullible and trusting character and McCarthy’s over-the-top chutzpah makes for some wildly amusing moments.

There are the obligatory car chases and a more-or-less happy ending that seems anticlimactic, but the time in between passes quickly, with a good supporting cast and broad slapstick moments that make for an entertaining, cleverly-written comedy.

Identity Thief plays at the Qwanlin Cinema Centre at 6:50 and 9:10 pm, and is rated 14-A.

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