Melissa McCarthy came to our collective attention in Paul Feig‘s “Bridesmaids,” in a supporting role so good that, even in a movie full of brilliant, breakout performances, hers was the brilliantest and breakingoutest. Hers was also, in a sense, the most satisfying: suddenly a larger, older actress (McCarthy was 40 when “Bridesmaids” came out, which in Hollywood is further over the hill
than you could possibly imagine) was getting big lead roles in major comedies, like February’s hit “Identity Thief” and Feig’s upcoming “The Heat.”
But not everyone was happy, because not everyone is a nice person. Case in point: Rex Reed, the New York Observer film critic, who used his “review” of “Identity Thief” to call McCarthy a “female hippo”, “obese and obnoxious” and “tractor-sized.” Of course, this is hardly the first time Reed has jumped off the deep end, using a review to launch his Drunk Uncle opinions. Supporting evidence, if you even need it: he once used an “Oldboy” review to beat up on Korean national food and culture (read that wonderful piece of writing right here).
But wait! Turns out he’s not a dick! Turns out he’s motivated by benign concern about Melissa McCarthy’s health! How sweet! Here’s what he said about this whole mini-controversy to Us Weekly (via Criticwire):
“I can only repeat what I have said before — that I do not have, nor have I ever had, anything personal against people who suffer from obesity… what I object to is the disgusting attempt to pretend obesity is funny. It is not remotely humorous, and every obese comedian who ever made jokes about the disease are now dead from strokes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. As a critic whose opinions are constitutionally protected by law, I stand by all of my original remarks about Melissa McCarthy’s obesity, which I consider about as amusing as cancer, and apologize for nothing.”
Don’t fuck with Rex Reed, he’s read the First Amendment — and he’s a doctor! Maybe the dude should be the next Surgeon General. Meanwhile, Melissa McCarthy is taking the high road, pointing out that Reed’s comments weren’t just a stupid insult to her but a dangerous statement for younger actresses still finding their confidence. “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,” she told the New York Times.
“The Heat” is out on Friday. We’re sure Reed’s review will be Pulitzer Prize material.