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Identity Thief

Adam Shaw
Source: Catholic News Service

Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy star in a scene from the movie "Identity Thief."

NEW YORK (CNS)—When Denver family man Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) discovers that his identity has been stolen—with huge credit card debts racked up in his name and criminal charges pending against him—it's not surprising that he expects the police to intervene on his behalf.

No such luck, at least in director Seth Gordon's morally murky comedy "Identity Thief" (Universal).

Sadly for Sandy, the titular culprit Diana (Melissa McCarthy) is a resident of Florida, which places her outside the reach of Colorado law enforcement. So it could take years to bring her to justice.

But Sandy's ruined credit rating and reputation have placed his newly secured, high-paying finance job at risk. So he decides to travel down to the Sunshine State, take custody of Diana himself and drag her back to his neck of the woods to put things right.

As it turns out, Sandy gets more trouble than he bargained for: Diana's illegal exploits have drawn the unwelcome attention of Julian (Tip "T.I." Harris) and Marisol (Genesis Rodriguez), a pair of ruthless bounty hunters who quickly decide to target Sandy as well.

Despite an interesting, if slightly unbelievable, premise, Craig Mazin's screenplay offers few fresh jokes. He relies instead on exploitative sight gags and foul language.

Additionally, his script seems to wink at theft in situations far removed from those narrow and extreme circumstances within which Judeo-Christian morality might excuse it. Stealing a loaf of bread to feed your starving family is one thing. Using your unappreciative ex-boss' credit card to fund a night of high living in a five-star resort, as Sandy eventually does, is something else entirely.

Do unto others as others have done unto you is, after all, anything but a golden rule.

The film contains skewed moral values, much slapstick and other violence, considerable sexual content including a semi-graphic nonmarital encounter, off-screen masturbation and brief rear nudity, occasional profanity, frequent rough and crude language and an obscene gesture. The Catholic News Service classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Adam Shaw is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

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Charles de Foucauld: Born into an aristocratic family in Strasbourg, France, Charles was orphaned at the age of six, raised by his devout grandfather, rejected the Catholic faith as a teenager and joined the French army. Inheriting a great deal of money from his grandfather, Charles went to Algeria with his regiment, but not without his mistress, Mimi. <br /><br />When he declined to give her up, he was dismissed from the army. Still in Algeria when he left Mimi, Charles reenlisted in the army. Refused permission to make a scientific exploration of nearby Morocco, he resigned from the service. With the help of a Jewish rabbi, Charles disguised himself as a Jew and in 1883 began a one-year exploration that he recorded in a book that was well received. <br /><br />Inspired by the Jews and Muslims whom he met, Charles resumed the practice of his Catholic faith when he returned to France in 1886. He joined a Trappist monastery in Ardeche, France, and later transferred to one in Akbes, Syria. Leaving the monastery in 1897, Charles worked as gardener and sacristan for the Poor Clare nuns in Nazareth and later in Jerusalem. In 1901 he returned to France and was ordained a priest. <br /><br />Later that year Charles journeyed to Beni-Abbes, Morocco, intending to found a monastic religious community in North Africa that offered hospitality to Christians, Muslims, Jews, or people with no religion. He lived a peaceful, hidden life but attracted no companions. <br /><br />A former army comrade invited him to live among the Tuareg people in Algeria. Charles learned their language enough to write a Tuareg-French and French-Tuareg dictionary, and to translate the Gospels into Tuareg. In 1905 he came to Tamanrasset, where he lived the rest of his life. A two-volume collection of Charles' Tuareg poetry was published after his death. <br /><br />In early 1909 he visited France and established an association of laypeople who pledged to live by the Gospels. His return to Tamanrasset was welcomed by the Tuareg. In 1915 Charles wrote to Louis Massignon: “The love of God, the love for one’s neighbor…All religion is found there…How to get to that point? Not in a day since it is perfection itself: it is the goal we must always aim for, which we must unceasingly try to reach and that we will only attain in heaven.”   <br /><br />The outbreak of World War I led to attacks on the French in Algeria. Seized in a raid by another tribe, Charles and two French soldiers coming to visit him were shot to death on December 1, 1916. <br />Five religious congregations, associations, and spiritual institutes (Little Brothers of Jesus, Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Little Sisters of Jesus, Little Brothers of the Gospel and Little Sisters of the Gospel) draw inspiration from the peaceful, largely hidden, yet hospitable life that characterized Charles. He was beatified on November 13, 2005. American Catholic Blog You know, O my God, I have never desired anything but to love you, and I am ambitious for no other glory.

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