In his review of this spring’s “Identity Thief,” New York Observer film critic Rex Reed called its star, Melissa McCarthy, a “tractor-sized” “humongous” “female hippo” and “a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success.” Later, he addressed the controversy generated by his comments on WOR Radio, where he refused to apologize, said that he objected to people “using health issues like obesity as comic talking points,” and insisted that his review was “constitutionally protected, so there’s nothing anybody can do” to stop him.
Through it all, McCarthy remained silent. But yesterday, out on the publicity tour for her latest movie, “The Heat,” McCarthy finally commented on Reed’s nasty review. As part of a profile in The New York Times, McCarthy broke her silence to reporter Dave Itzkoff:
“When Ms. McCarthy was asked about the review over lunch in April, her characteristically cheerful tone evaporated. In a softer voice, she said her initial reaction to reading it had been ‘Really?’ and then, she said, ‘Why would someone O.K. that?’
Without mentioning the name of its author, Ms. McCarthy said: ‘I felt really bad for someone who is swimming in so much hate. I just thought, that’s someone who’s in a really bad spot, and I am in such a happy spot. I laugh my head off every day with my husband and my kids who are mooning me and singing me songs.'”
McCarthy also noted that if she’d received Reed’s review when she was was 20, it “may have crushed” her.
I guess we’ll have to wait and see how Reed handles this in his review of “The Heat.” I’m sure it will include a thoughtful, deeply nuanced consideration of McCarthy’s performance.
Read more of “Melissa McCarthy Goes Over the Top.”