Identity Thief A Mere Shadow Of Hughes’ Classic Road Trip Comedy

Courtesy:  Universal Studios

Courtesy: Universal Studios

Universal Studios’ latest attempt at a buddy comedy comes up far short of the John Hughes classic which it tries to emulate. This road trip buddy comedy is a mere shadow of Hughes’ 1987 classic, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Where Hughes did everything right with his movie, writer and director Steve Conrad and Seth Gordon have combined to make a movie in Identity Thief that struggles at best to come across as an update of what is a much better story. Thank goodness for veteran actor Jason Bateman (Arrested Development, Extract, etc.). If not for his acting chops, this movie might have completely sunk. He manages throughout the story to pick up the slack left by co-star Melissa McCarthy whose character is annoying in herself, while she as an actress falls flat in her attempt to be funny. It would be interesting to find out if other actresses had been considered for the role or even another actor before the higher ups decided on her. Even the inclusion of guest stars Robert Patrick (T2, The Unit) and rapper T.I. didn’t do a lot to help the movie.

Identity Thief has more than its share of problems. But for all of its negatives, it would be unfair to ignore the few funny and at least semi-heartfelt moments that are peppered throughout the story (as few as they are). The story does offer at least a tiny amount of heart in that McCarthy’s Diana does reach a point where she begins to realize how she is and begins to change ever so slowly. Audiences see hints of Diana’s change when she decides not to take Sandy’s (Bateman) car one night at a hotel. Eventually her own growth leads Sandy to his own point of self-discovery and realization. That realization leads to his own personal growth. The personal growth of both Sandy and Diana does help move the story. And thankfully there are some equally enjoyable moments of physical comedy that help move the story along. Sadly though, those moments aren’t enough to make up for the mass of slower moments that bog down this near two hour movie. Those slower moments leave a movie that clocks in at just under two hours feel more like a near two and a half hour movie. Needless to say that considering this, it’s the final nail in the coffin for this failed attempt at an update of a classic. It’s one more movie that proves there’s nothing better than the original.

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Horrible Bosses is a horrible movie

The recent workplace buddy comedy, “Horrible Bosses” is one of the worst movies of 2011, if not the worst.  It’s little more than just another stoner flick that would appeal more to college age audiences than anyone with any kind of sense about them.  On the surface, the idea of three horrible bosses seems like something to which every working American can relate.  But the old adage, “never judge a book by its cover” applies here more than ever.  On the surface, “Horrible Bosses” comes across something that might be mildly funny.  But upon opening the cover and diving in, audiences get something entirely different. What they get is a dumbed down, immature work that’s more about sex and drugs than bad bosses.

The great American dream for every hard working American is to have a good job.  That includes good hours, equally respectable pay, and a boss that has some respect for his/her employees.  Director Seth Gordon, and the team of writers behind this awful work lead audiences on with that premise, making them believe Horrible Bosses will be a fun buddy comedy that pokes fun at the reality that most Americans actually face a la “Office Space”.  Instead though, it comes across as little better than a Seth Rogen flick.  The only real star of this movie is Jason Bateman.  Ironically enough, Bateman starred in another workplace comedy called “Extract”.  That movie, like “Office Space”, was a Mike Judge production.  And as with “Office Space”,  it was actually enjoyable.  Though by comparison, “Office Space” was still far better.

What “Office Space” and “Extract” got right, “Horrible Bosses” got…well…horribly, horribly wrong.  The story is rife with overt sexuality from Dr. Julia Harris (Jennifer Anniston), and drug use on the part of Bobby Pellitt (Colin Ferrell).  Then there’s Nick’s (Jason Bateman) boss, Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey).  Harken comes across just like all of Spacey’s other roles.  After a while, it gets more than a little old.  He does try to readapt his personality for the role.  But in large part, he has the same demeanor as he has in nearly every other role that he’s ever filled.  Seeing Anniston order Dale into her office, wearing little other than a labcoat and underwear takes sexual harrassment to an unbelieveable level.  The same applies to her bathtub scene.  In regards to Colin Firth’s role as Bobby Pellitt, regardless of whether it was in a small company or major organization, organization such as his would not be tolerated in the real world.  Not even Spacey is believable in as Harken.  

The bosses aren’t the only problem with “Horrible Bosses”.  Bateman and his cohorts come across more as the juvenile college audiences they likely tried to reach than relateable characters.  Again, perhaps the only really relateable character among the trio was Bateman’s Nick Hendricks.  He seems to play at least some voice of reason between himself and his friends.  If anything, the trio is more reminiscent of the boys from “The Hangover” than anything funny. 

“Horrible Bosses” has little, if anything positive about it.  There is little, if anything, to like about this largely forgettable wanna be ripoff of Mike Judge’s far superior workplace comedy, “Office Space”.  About the only thing that can be said of “Horrible Bosses”, when it’s all said and done, is that it’s simply…well…horrible.  Final verdict:  Thumbs down.