The film was a commercial success, grossing over $174 million worldwide on a $35 million budget.
In Denver, accountant Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) buys identity theft protection from Diana (Melissa McCarthy), a con artist, over the phone and reveals all of his personal information. At work, after Sandy clashes with his obnoxious and bullying boss, Harold Cornish (Jon Favreau), he receives a phone call that reminds him he has an appointment at a salon in Florida. Confused, he puts it out of his mind when co-worker Daniel Casey (John Cho) suggests they and several others leave Cornish's company and start their own firm; Sandy agrees to join them.
When paying for gas, Sandy's credit card is declined, and the clerk cuts it up. As the credit card company tells him that he has spent huge amounts of money in Florida, he is arrested for missing a court date there. At the police station, Detective Reilly (Morris Chestnut) determines Diana has stolen Sandy's identity. The situation worsens when cops ask Daniel, now his boss, about Sandy's possession of drugs. Reilly says Sandy's name was used to buy drugs from someone named Paolo (Jonathan Banks). When the cops say they can do nothing due to jurisdictional issues unless the identity thief is in Denver, Sandy offers to retrieve her and convince her to clear his name, despite his wife, Trish's (Amanda Peet) concerns.
Sandy finds Diana at the salon in Florida, but when he confronts her, she steals his rental car. Finding her address in her abandoned car, he investigates her house, which is full of merchandise and stolen credit cards. The pair scuffle; before Sandy can handcuff her, criminals Marisol (Genesis Rodriguez) and Julian (T.I.) burst in, angry that Diana gave Paolo bad credit cards. After Sandy and Diana escape, Sandy tells her about his plan to restore his reputation, and she agrees to help. Meanwhile, a skiptracer (Robert Patrick) is dispatched to track down Diana for a substantial bounty. Because their IDs are identical, flight is impossible, and they travel to Denver by car.
After traveling through several states, the skiptracer catches up to the pair and captures Diana. A chase ensues; she knocks him unconscious, and Sandy rams his van off the road. When Sandy's rental car gets plowed and totaled by an oncoming semi, they take the skiptracer's van, with him tied up in the back. When it overheats, they continue on foot through a forest. Sandy discards his pants when he finds a snake in them, and Diana accidentally knocks him unconscious when another bites his neck. Sandy wakes at a bus station, and Diana says she carried him until she flagged down a truck. As the next bus to Denver leaves in three days, Sandy uses money hidden in his socks to buy a $200 car from an auto wrecking yard. For gas money, the pair con an accounts processor and steal Cornish's identity to create new credit cards. Meanwhile, Marisol shoots the skiptracer, and the criminals continue their pursuit of Sandy and Diana.
In St. Louis, the two share dinner, and Diana admits she does not know her real name due to growing up as a foster child. The accounts processor enters with cops, who arrest Sandy and Diana. Diana uncuffs herself in the back of the police car, breaks the back windshield, and escapes with Sandy. The skiptracer shoots Marisol and Julian, finds Diana and Sandy on the highway mid-escape, and hits Diana with his car. Sandy comes to her aid, but Diana revives and defensively strikes Sandy in the throat. Diana and Sandy eventually get home, where Diana has dinner with Sandy's family and reconciles with them.
The next morning, Sandy finds Diana gone and a note that apologizes for the trouble she caused. Sandy prepares to quit his job, but Daniel shows him that Diana turned herself in. Detective Reilly tells Sandy he is no longer part of the investigation, and Diana is taken away in cuffs. Before she leaves, Sandy asks her why; Diana says she knew he would not turn her in, but it was the right thing to do. A year later, Sandy celebrates another birthday, this time with his third child. The family visits Diana in prison, and Sandy presents her with a birth certificate that reveals her name as Dawn Budgie. Diana hugs Sandy. When a guard antagonizes her, Diana punches the guard, and another guard stuns her with a Taser. As she recovers and walks back to her cell, Sandy watches with a shocked expression.Jason Bateman as Sandy Bigelow PattersonMelissa McCarthy as Diana/Dawn BudgieJon Favreau as Harold CornishAmanda Peet as Trish PattersonT.I. as JulianGenesis Rodriguez as MarisolMorris Chestnut as Detective ReillyJohn Cho as Daniel CaseyRobert Patrick as SkiptracerEric Stonestreet as Big ChuckJonathan Banks as Paolo GordonMary-Charles Jones as Franny PattersonMaggie Elizabeth Jones as Jessie PattersonBen Falcone as Tony, the Motel Desk ClerkEllie Kemper as Flo, the Truck-Stop Server (uncredited)
The film was first conceived as a project with two male leads, but that changed when Bateman saw McCarthy in Bridesmaids and pushed for her to star alongside him. Jerry Eeten wrote an early draft, later finished by Craig Mazin with a final rewrite by Seth Gordon. In January 2012, Gordon was announced as the director of the film with Scott Stuber producing through his Stuber Pictures banner with Bateman and Peter Morgan for DumbDumb. In April 2012, John Cho, Clark Duke and Amanda Peet joined the cast (Duke did not appear in the finished film). In May 2012, Jon Favreau and Morris Chestnut also joined the cast.
Some filming took place in Atlanta at the 191 Peachtree Tower, around May 2012. Scenes were also filmed on Peachtree Street in Midtown Atlanta, at The Colonnade restaurant on Cheshire Bridge Road in Morningside, and at Perimeter Mall. Scenes from the film were also shot at Salon 2000 in Ansley Mall.
In March 2012, a release date of May 10, 2013 was announced. In June 2012, the release date changed to February 8, 2013.
The first official full-length trailer of the film was released on September 26, 2012.
Identity Thief has grossed $134.5 million in the USA & Canada, and $39.5 million in other countries, for a worldwide total of $174 million against a budget of $35 million.
Despite the mostly negative critical reviews, Identity Thief opened at #1 at the box office with $34.5 million in its first weekend, which was considered remarkable by analysts since a major winter storm, often a concern with winter dump months releases, forced theater closings and kept moviegoers at home in the densely populated Northeast. The film held the #2 spot in its second weekend, grossing $27.5 million and only dropping 20.5%. It reclaimed the #1 spot in its third week opening.
On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 19% based on 165 reviews with an average rating of 4.1/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Identity Thief's few laughs are attributable to Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman, who labor mightily to create a framework for the movie's undisciplined plotline". On Metacritic, the film has a score of 35 out of 100 based on 41 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
R. Kurt Osenlund of Slant Magazine gave the film a positive review, rating it 3 out of 4 stars, praising McCarthy's performance, writing that she "gives a performance leagues better than anything to be expected in a mainstream, early-in-the-year release, padding a typically sketched character with layers of hilarity and pathos. McCarthy owns 'Identity Thief' with a turn of limitless surprise, making an otherwise adequate comedy soar as a star vehicle. She is riveting in simply-penned moments of remorse and confession, adding tearful depth to her ace timing and formidable physical comedy."
In his negative review, Rex Reed controversially made several references to Melissa McCarthy's weight, referring to her as "tractor-sized", "humongous", "obese", and a "hippo". Reed's comments immediately attracted wide criticism from various film critics and the film industry at large. Film critic Richard Roeper said, "This just smacks of mean-spirited name-calling in lieu of genuine criticism." On Twitter, Paul Feig, who directed McCarthy in Bridesmaids and The Heat, wrote, "I cordially invite Mr. Rex Reed to go fuck himself." The review was referenced at the 85th Academy Awards on February 24, 2013 by the host, Seth MacFarlane, who joked that Reed would review Adele for singing "Skyfall" at the ceremony. In a column for The Huffington Post, Candy Spelling likened Reed's review to bullying.