‘Identity Thief’ a bumpy romp in comedy

movie graphic“You see those numbers? That’s her height. I’m going after Bilbo.”

Luckily, this trailer teaser wasn’t the funniest line of dialogue in “Identity Thief.”

Sandy Patterson’s (Jason Bateman, “Arrested Development”) life is just getting comfortable. He has a new job that will more than provide for his family of four and the new baby on the way. After years of struggling financially, things are finally looking up.

Until his identity is stolen by a woman in Florida (Melissa McCarthy, “Bridesmaids”).

After his cards are declined, he is arrested for crimes he didn’t commit and he faces losing his new job over the open case, Sandy goes to Florida in search of the woman who stole his identity. Once he finds her, he must find a way get her back to Colorado to be tried there first, and his identity can be restored in time to save his budding career.

When a bounty hunter and two gang members show up looking for her as well, the trip degenerates into something oddly similar to the storyline of “Due Date.”

The movie had its funny moments, and even a few instances of action, but the movie was riddled with lulls. The time between jokes dragged in the second half, and some things that should have been funny weren’t even laughable.

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A movie trailer shows Diana (the alias that Sandy comes to call McCarthy’s character by) trying to embarrass Sandy into leaving her alone by bringing in another man and telling him that Sandy likes to “watch.” Later on, a sex scene does ensue, and while nothing explicit is shown, it is drawn out and excessive. It’s so long that it stops being funny and makes the audience uncomfortable.

Another downside to the movie is that the depth and root of Diana’s character is hinted at and mostly revealed too quickly. Within the first 10 minutes of the movie, the audience gets a very good sense of the insecurities that drive her outlandish behavior, but it ends up undermining her poor qualities and make the audience relate to and root for her too soon.

It’s frustrating to be two-thirds of the movie ahead of the main protagonist emotionally. Sandy doesn’t really, genuinely like Diana until near the end of the movie, and that makes viewers upset with him for treating her in ways that should seem reasonable at that point. By the time he learns the truth about Diana, which is even more tragic than viewers suspect by this point, the audience is unaffected.

Those things aside, when the laughs come about, they are plentiful. Possibly the best jokes are the subtle ones though — where they hark back to previous situations, but only in passing. Those banters feel the most genuine, and the ease with which those lines are delivered makes them all the more humorous.

“Identity Thief” doesn’t deserve any awards for comedy, but it is worth seeing as a matinee. Paying $10.50 for an evening showing is a bit excessive.

Movie: “Identity Thief”

Director: Seth Gordon

Starring: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, John Cho

Release Date: Feb. 8, 2013

Rating: 3