A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Identity Thief is full of (comic) mayhem, with cars crunching into each other (sometimes on purpose) and characters shooting at each other, stealing from each other, and generally creating as much chaos as possible. The premise centers around a thief (Melissa McCarthy) who steals someone else's identity; he (Jason Bateman) then proceeds to try to get her to clear his name. In the process, they get embroiled in tons of hijinks, some of which are sexual in nature (though not with each other); there's simulated sex, but no nudity. Expect lots of innuendoes and plenty of swearing (including "f--k" and "s--t"), plus some racist jokes, drinking (wine, hard liquor), and product placement.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Even-tempered, kind, hardworking Denver resident Sandy Bigelow Patterson (Jason Bateman) finds himself in the unlikely position of having to confront Diana (Melissa McCarthy), a troubled, devious, middle-aged woman living large in Florida thanks to credit cards she took out in Sandy's name. The fraud is putting Sandy's new job on the line, and all he wants is for Diana to come to Denver and say she's behind all the financial ills that have befallen him. But, first, he must convince her to return with him, all while fending off amorous suitors, vengeful hit men, and a bounty hunter who's plenty angry.
Is it any good?
IDENTITY THIEF makes off with a few of your hours that you might find yourself missing. Not because of Bateman and McCarthy, mind you; they have an authenticity and likeability that save this comedy from true ruin. Their chemistry makes their unlikely team-up -- and subsequent journey -- believable and even understandable.
The problem lies in the script. Identity Thief can't seem to decide what it wants to be: Is it a road-trip comedy? A buddy comedy? An absurdist, violent, witty mayhem extravaganza (a la Quentin Tarantino)? Too many characters are given little to do; in the end, they seem like red herrings that distract from, not add to, the movie's potential greatness. Some of the jokes seem mean-spirited, too: We're asked to sympathize with Diana, even as the movie makes her a discomfittingly easy mark. We can put up with the enormous suspension of disbelief that the movie demands, but we do have our limits.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Identity Thief's premise. How often does identity theft happen in real life? Discuss ways to stay safe on the Internet and how to protect your privacy and identity.
How is Identity Theft similar to, and different from, other heist/road movies? Does it add anything new to the genre?
Is the movie violent? How does the overall tone impact the scenes of car crashes, shooting, etc.?
Why does Diana do what she does? Is it excusable? Understandable? Or does the movie let her off the hook too easily?
- In theaters: February 8, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: June 4, 2013
- Cast: Amanda Peet, Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy
- Director: Seth Gordon
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: sexual content and language
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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