Film Review: Identity Thief

Identity Thief

Two likeable lead actors do not necessarily make a likeable film. Identity Thief is testament to this.

Sensible office worker Sandy Patterson is dismayed to find that someone has stolen his identity. With the police being of limited help, Sandy travels from Denver to Florida to confront the woman who has caused a whole heap of trouble…

Identity Thief is a comedy which also strives for a more emotional connection with its audience. The film would have been more enjoyable if it had been funnier. Simply put, there are not not enough belly laughs. Whilst Identity Thief does amuse at times, this is not sufficient to sustain the entire movie.

Identity Thief follows a caper format, with plenty of obstacles thrown in to hinder Sandy from completing his goal. The film requires a healthy suspension of disbelief. Not least in its premise; it is highly dubious that it would be left to the victim to bring a perpetrator to justice.

The two main characters work reasonably well together in a odd-couple kind of way. Writers Craig Mazin and Jerry Eeten have attempted to give the two protagonists a bit of depth. To a certain extent, viewers will care about the fate of both of them. But this is undermined somewhat by implausibility of the set-up. The secondary characters are very one dimensional. Some are outright caricatures.

Jason Bateman is suitably cast as the straight guy to Melissa McCarthy’s wacky character. Both are good comedy actors; it is a shame they did not have stronger material to work with in this instance. Jon Favreau is fittingly odious in a small role, while Amanda Peet has little to do in playing the supportive housewife.

Identity Thief is by no means painful viewing. However, it is unlikely to be a movie that audiences return to again and again.

Film Review: The Hangover Part II

After the enormous and unexpected success of The Hangover, it seemed inevitable that there would be a sequel. Although some sequels rival the original in terms of quality, sadly this is not the case with The Hangover Part II.

Stu, Phil, Alan and Doug travel to Thailand for Stu’s upcoming wedding to Lauren. Stu is not keen on having a bachelor’s party, but the guys convince him to have one drink on the beach. When Stu, Phil and Alan wake up the next morning they cannot remember a thing. Moreover, Lauren’s little brother Teddy is missing…

The Hangover Part II follows the exact same formula as its predecessor. It is practically identical, except for the fact that it is set in Thailand for most of the duration. As such, the film offers no surprises; it is incredibly lazy story telling. It lacks the fresh ideas that made the original film so entertaining.

The only aspect of innovation to be found is the pushing of boundaries. Those who thought the first film was debauched will be even less impressed with this effort. In attempting to go one bigger, director and co-writer Todd Phillips includes material that may be offensive to some.

There are some good humorous moments, but these are not enough to sustain the entire film. In re-treading the same steps as The Hangover, Part II makes the aspects that were funny in the 2009 film appear tired and unoriginal. Moreover, elements that worked well in the first film have been pushed too far in this sequel. Alan was a genuinely funny character; an oddball who stole a lot of the scenes in the 2009 film. In realising the character was a hit, Phillips, Craig Mazin and Scot Armstrong have amplified the character’s more unusual traits. Rather than making Alan more comedic, this has the opposite effect; his childlikeness grows annoying quickly.

Performances in The Hangover Part II are fine. Ed Helms is energetic as Stu; at times the actor seems desperate to make scenes funnier than they actually are. Bradley Cooper is again attractive but of dubious morals as Phil. Zach Galifianakis is a good comedy actor, but is hampered by the writing. Similar to the 2009 film, Justin Bartha has a small role as Doug. It seems a shame to sideline this character; perhaps his inclusion in Bangkok would have added a new and interesting dimension to the fold. Ken Jeong’s over-the-top Mr Chow is hit and miss.

The Hangover Part II will probably be a success because fans of the first film will flock to see it. Many will surely be disappointed however, as the film is more Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2 than The Godfather: Part II.