How far is too far?
Should a film critic stray beyond the bounds of reviewing the movie itself and wage a verbal assault upon an actor’s persona as well? That’s what veteran New York Observer critic Rex Reed did in a very negative review of IDENTITY THIEF starring Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman.
Reed attacked McCarthy for her weight, referring to her as “cacophonous, tractor-sized,” a “female hippo,” a “screeching humongous creep” and – last but not least – “being obese and obnoxious with equal success.”
On top of that, Reed hated the movie so much that he had to get one final dig into the last sentence of his review:
“IDENTITY THIEF is so bad it’s hard to believe it wasn’t directed by Judd Apatow or the Farrelly Brothers.”
Did Reed cross the line? You bet.
Then again, the movie itself spent its fair share of time making fat jokes. Not as blatant maybe but check out the scene at a club where McCarthy’s almost invisible until she starts buying drinks for everyone. And then squeezing into a tiny Fiat 500 which sure got lots of laughs. In addition to that there were plenty of scenes throughout the film that wouldn’t have been nearly as funny were McCarthy of smaller size.
I’m not defending Reed’s writing.
A line in my review of the comedy states that Bateman coaxes, bribes and wrangles with his co-star…not an easy task when it means taking on big Melissa McCarthy.”
Was the word BIG a bit insensitive?
Maybe, but the two did wrestle—and it wasn’t pretty.
I remember years ago having an argument with Fox 4 movie critic at the time Doug Moore who, from time to time, not only dissed certain actors for their political leanings but called out the studios for producing the type of storylines he disagreed with.
So who gets the last laugh?
Probably Universal AND Ms. McCarthy, since the film performed above expectations with a weekend box office of $34.8 million. And that’s WITHOUT the benefit of many theaters on the east coast which shut down for much of the weekend due to the huge blizzard.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, director Paul Feig of McCarthy’s breakout hit BRIDESMAIDS pretty well nailed it by tweeting:
“For his catty and school bully name-calling of the supremely talented Melissa McCarthy, I cordially invite Mr. Rex Reed to go f–k himself.”