Why hasn't there been a modern-day movie about the serious repercussions of identity theft? Most of the best movies ever done about the subject are a tad anachronistic by now, especially when you place "Catch Me if You Can" into the equation. And any recently halfway serious films about identity theft have been done through the guise of spying or characters duping others through heists or similar rare situations.
The new comedy "Identity Thief" finally takes on the subject of the lone person who steals another person's identity, just because they can. But some of those who've dealt with identity theft may find it strange that such a movie ended up becoming a fall-down comedy with Melissa McCarthy at the helm. You can even argue that McCarthy's Diana character brings a contrived and grating look at what makes up a real identity thief.
In this case, we're to assume that some identity thieves are simply sociopaths who do it out of mental degradation. What we have yet to see is the identity usurper who's doing it for drug money or out of desperation to merely survive. How that plays out on the thief's end rather than the victim is something film has yet to explore in more depth.
Perhaps the only way to take on one of America's worst crimes is to turn it into a dark comedy as an easier process method. One can only envision how disturbing a performance it would have been had Melissa McCarthy's Diana been depicted in a darkly serious way. You might find more than a few critics who wish that would have happened while keeping the poster image of her sucking on the straw of a Big Gulp-like soft drink.
A true performance, however, would have been a depiction of an identity thief as a walking conundrum. Movies about crimes usually have a strong rhyme or reason for why that crime takes place. What would happen if a dramatic film about identity theft had the thief doing the crime out of reasons unknown?
Films that don't explain everything may fall too close within the walls of the indie category. Nevertheless, not every thief who steals identities may be doing it out of desperation for money or drugs. Some may be doing it just as an element of getting high off danger.
For such a film, black comedy may be necessary within the guise of a drama. It's a dare, though, for a mainstream film to not reveal the exact reason why an identity thief is stealing another person's identity. As the media is also discovering, that person may be working within a large I.D. theft ring rather than doing all the dirty work on his or her own.
With McCarthy's Diana character, it seems implausible someone (i.e. Jason Bateman's Sandy Bigelow Patterson) could be roped into giving his social security number over the phone. If the movies want to get truly serious about identity theft, they'd remind audiences the usually more insidious methods of an identity being stolen that don't always involve being stupid.
A truly iconic and compelling identity thief movie character needs to be up on the big screen as a way toward compelling individuals stealing identities to clean up their own lives.