On the surface, it’d appear that the joining variable between “Identity Thief” and “Horrible Bosses” is actor Jason Bateman, who headlines both movies. Though this is arguably the largest likeness, there are really quite several other similarities between both pictures and a number of comparisons too.
In “Horrible Bosses,” Bateman plays Nick Hendricks, a guy who has worked extremely hard to please his manager Mr. Harken (Kevin Spacey), who’s a bit of a sociopath. However hard he works, Mr. Harken will not give him a promotion or even handle him with any dignity. In “Identity Thief,” Bateman has a likewise putrid manager in Harold Cornish (Jon Favreau), who has Bateman’s character Sandy cut million-dollar bonus checks for him and his cronies while failing to give the hourly employees a single cent for their hard work.
In “Horrible Bosses,” Bateman’s character teams up with two of his buddies to really kill all three of their supervisors. Though homicide is clearly a serious offense, the whole assumption is played for laughs and looks to be just halfway serious about really killing anyone. Meanwhile, in “Identity Thief,” Sandy would just hurt a fly, not as much murder his supervisor, which is where both movies contrast. Sandy begins the movie as a little pushover, but by the ending, he’s taking out vengeance on Cornish in his own manner, without having to send him to his grave.
Another contrast between both movies is that “Horrible Bosses” is more of an ensemble piece, whereas “Identity Thief” is Bateman and Emmy winner Melissa McCarthy playing the leads, with a couple others like Amanda Peet and Favreau taking supporting characters. “Identity Thief” is definitely a light riff on the classic pal road comedy, while “Horrible Bosses” is considerably darker in tone and has stars like Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, and Colin Farrell. Both of them are really amusing comedies, but the kind and tone of each one are significantly different.
Two movies do not have to be just like in their brand of humor in order to have similarities, however. Along with Bateman and the subject of bad managers, both films also have protagonists who’ve had brushes with the law. In “Identity Thief,
” McCarthy’s character Diana is an identity thief who uses Sandy’s name and social security number to make credit cards that she bills to the hilt. She’s definitely a criminal who’s causing fiscal chaos on her casualties, which is a repugnant thing. Regardless of this, her character is a really great man inside who definitely needs some counselling to get through her various youth problems. Though audience begin the film desiring her to get her comeuppance, Diana wins them around in the end and becomes a hero of sorts in helping Sandy get his life back in order.
In “Horrible Bosses,” Charlie Day’s character Dale Arbus is a well meaning guy who got drunk one night and urinated in a public park. Sadly, the cops were in the place and detained him, giving him the dreaded sex offender label because he unwittingly urinated near a children’s playground. Though there were no kids about because it was after midnight, Dale is in the sex offender database, which turns off most future companies. He eventually finds a job as a dental assistant
to Dr. Julia Harris (Aniston), who sexually harasses him. He made a terrible error and has a criminal record, but he’s actually a decent man, much like Diana in “Identity Thief.”
Another similarity between the two is that in the end, the great folks usually win. Neither film has quite the happy ending that audience may have anticipated, but there’s still a pervading theme of good prevailing over evil running through both. Each picture takes a significantly different path to get to the various ends, but the endgame is pretty much the exact same. Bad people get their comeuppance, and somehow the good people continue on with their lives with a better view of what actually matters in life.