I Weigh in on…Rex Reed vs Melissa McCarthy

melissa mccarthy

Melissa McCarthy at the red carpet for Bridesmaids — the movie that made her a star.

A few of the movie critics I’m friends with have posted things on Facebook about the controversy involving film critic Rex Reed, who writes for the New York Observer and  the New York Post. He’s been a critic and celebrity reporter for over 30 years, and he’s always had a rather nasty side to him.

In his review of Identity Thief, he called lead actress Melissa McCarthy a “female hippo” (not sure why he needed to throw “female” in there), “tractor-sized,” and a “screeching humongous creep.” He could’ve just left the word “humongous” out and he’d be accurate as to the character she portrayed (in a movie I also hated). Finally, he said about the actress, she was “being obese and obnoxious with equal success.”

Many of the entertainment programs have discussed this review and it’s becoming controversial. I’m on the fence with this whole thing.

First of all – I’ve always hated Rex Reed and his reviews. And I dig Melissa McCarthy. On all the talk shows I’ve seen her on, she’s very humble, funny, and happy for her success. She has a great sense of humor and can interact well with the host (something many can’t do on talk shows). She was great in Bridesmaids. And I know somebody that works on her TV show Mike & Molly. He said she’s always sweet to everyone and very professional.

Rex Reed, on the other hand, has always been a bit snarky for my tastes; but more important, he’s just a bad film critic. He does a horrible job describing the movies, and his taste in movies is bizarre. I’ll give you an example, by listing the recent good movies he’s given bad reviews: Side Effects, Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln, Seven Psychopaths, Ruby Sparks, The Dark Knight Rises, Your Sister’s Sister, Moonrise Kingdom, Everything Must Go, Submarine, 50/50, and Limitless.

Here are some bad movies that he liked: Knife Fight, Quartet, Real Steel, The Art of Getting By, Hyde Park on the Hudson, Battleship, Joyful Noise (those last three on many critics worst-of-the-year lists), Rampart, Hysteria, Anonymous, Somewhere, and two more that were on many critics worst of the year compilations – The Beaver and The Vow.

He and I did both dislike Albert Nobbs, Contagion, Tree of Life, and Silver Linings Playbook…all films most critics praised.

In his review of The Master (he hated it), he makes fun of Joaquin Phoenix’ nose hair. In my review, I made fun of his acting. He’s a brilliant actor, but in my opinion he overdid it with the body contortions and lip snarls. It looked like he had had a stroke. And that becomes the crux of the debate. Do you make fun of an actors appearance, or their acting? Do we use our forum to write about the movie, or criticize the actors in it?

In full disclosure, recall two incidents were I did something similar. In my review of The Beaver (which again, he liked) – I talked about Mel Gibsons screaming phone calls to his ex. That was making the news and I felt that was relevant. It was the elephant in the room when it came to Gibson.

And in my review of King Kong, I went on about how big Adrian Brody’s nose was. It actually distracted me a few times. He’s a great actor and I’m a fan of his work, but he had the wrong look for that role. Oh wait, that reminds me…I did make fun of how Dustin Hoffman’s nose looked in that suit in Outbreak, but I only said that to a handful of my friends that were with me at the theatre. Perhaps I felt that since I have a big nose, I’m allowed to point it out in other actors (side note: I found Jennifer Grey and her big nose adorable in Dirty Dancing).

There was a time Rex Reed made fun of Sarah Jessica Parker’s looks when the first Sex and the City movie came out. He went on and on about her mole. He said she should have wart-removal surgery and that she looked like a Halloween witch. She had it removed months later.

I always hated when Howard Stern went on about Parker’s looks. He called her “horse face” among other things. I’ve always thought she was cute, but that isn’t really the point. I have a problem with these insults for a few reasons. We all know how vulnerable teenagers can be to criticism. I hate the idea that these types of insults can lead to kids calling other kids names on the playground at school. And if he’s talking about McCarthy’s weight – well, we all know about eating disorders at this point. The bigger problem is this – HE SHOULD JUST REVIEW THE MOVIE!!

You can make fun of her performance, make fun of the horrible script or bad acting, but why talk about their looks?

I’m wondering if in any Reed reviews, he talked about John Goodman’s weight. I’m guessing he didn’t.

Bridesmaid director Paul Feig sent a tweet out that read “I cordially invite Mr. Rex Reed to go f*** himself.”

He talked about his bully behavior, too.

On Buzzfeed.com, the story was written with various photos of McCarthy. Somebody on that site, Marisa Young of Portland, said it perfectly in her post: “Rex, as a gay man you should have at least some passing acquaintance with being ridiculed. If you don’t like McCarthy’s performance, there are myriad ways of expressing that without resorting to ad hominem attacks. This movie sounds idiotic…but I didn’t need this rather pathetic excuse for a review to convince me.”

Now, as much as I like McCarthy and dislike Reed, I have to say this. It’s not quite as bad as people are making it out to be. And here’s why.

Certain actors get cast because of the way they look. Chris Farley got the fat guy roles. So did John Candy. Paul Giamatti got a lot of early roles not due to his leading man looks. Howard Stern cast him to play his horribly mean boss “Pig Vomit.”

Richard Jenkins (Oscar nominee for The Visitor) has a great career despite having a bald head and acne scars.

Yet for some reason, men get a pass when it comes to people writing about their looks. That’s not the point, though. McCarthy was cast because she was funny in Bridesmaids. I heard Jason Bateman (star and producer of the film) say that. The script had scenes that made fun of her weight. Therefore, you can’t knock critics for also talking about her weight. Again, I don’t know why you would. Believe me, when reviewing a movie we’re never at a loss for words. Roger Ebert once wrote a full-length review on a movie he walked out of after 10 minutes.

I know that most celebrities don’t get into a pissing match with critics, but I’d love it if Melissa McCarthy released a statement that said “I remember reading about Rex Reed being involved in a shoplifting incident at a Tower Records in New York years ago. He ‘allegedly’ stole some Mel Torme and Peggy Lee CDs. Aside from the horrible taste in music, I’m wondering why he couldn’t write in his review that he related to my character, who stole peoples identities and also items from stores. Oh, and wasn’t Reed the critic that started the rumor about Jack Palance at the Oscars? He said Palance couldn’t read the card and just said it was Marisa Tomei that won but it really wasn’t. It took all the joy she probably would’ve had enjoying the Oscar win the following few days. She’s not fat, so I’m not sure what his beef is with her. Roger Ebert even said Reed owed Tomei an apology, but it never came. But hey sexy Rexy…if you want to start a rumor that says I’ll be hosting next years Oscars, or that I’ll be nominated for Best Leading Hippo – be my guest. Any press is good press.”

McCarthy is too classy to do that, but I’d love it if she did.

12 comments

  • Anne Wessel

    Rex Reed needs a time out. Being a bully at any age is not pretty. However, to be in profession were your WORDS, be them good or bad have an affect or a pull on what people think is irresponsible. Even sports players, get penalized for doing something inappropriate during a game, why not Rex Reed? What makes him so dam special.? Isn't there something that can be done? I realize that Ms. McCarthy is getting a lot of support from Hollywood, God knows she has mine. However, this just does not seem like enough. I hope Ms. McCarty laughs all the way to the bank. She is a beautiful lookig women who has a wonderful family and career. As I use to tell my children, God has given you to holes. The one to you heart, where you put all the good and special things in your life and your butt hold, were Rex Reed needs to be shoved.

  • Patricia Evans

    Rex Reed is an idiot. You're supposed to be reviewing a movie. I guess he has to say such nasty things so people will know he is still alive. Unimportant but alive.

  • Guest

    She may have talent, I don't know because I have never seen her before. She Is one extremely large individual and that is very obvious and not to be ignored. How very sad for her. I hope she is able to get the counseling and help that she needs.

  • Mark

    Why is there such a big deal being made about her weight??? I dont get it. I've seen thousands of large men and women in the movies….so what?? Was the movie funny? Was she a good convincing comedian? How is her acting? How was the story plot? Was the movie good???? These are the thins I want to read about when it comes to movies.

  • Karla

    She is hilariously funny, seems smart, sweet and kind. I hope she does lose some weight, for the sake of her health. Because she is a beautiful lady, not because of any unkind remarks that have been made by Rex Reed. I also believe that there isn't much this woman cannot accomplish.,

  • joshboardfox5

    These are all good points. For those that haven't seen the movie, it's pretty bad (my review is somewhere around this website if you look). I've always disliked Rex Reed, but part of me (just a small part) thought that if a person plays a character based on how they look — is it that bad for somebody to remark on it? Where Rex Reed blew it, was he could've mentioned her weight one time. Why harp on it?
    It's a whole different debate when you have a character like Vince Vaughn talking about electric cars being "gay" in that Ron Howard movie, which upset Anderson Cooper. Cooper should've realized — this is supposed to be a character that acts inappropriately, which is what drove his business partner (Kevin James) nuts.
    I had an hour long debate with somebody at the LA Times when the movie Tropic Thunder came out, because she objected to the use of "going full retard" by the Robert Downey Jr character. I told her his character was supposed to be a narcassistic and arrogant actor. That's what made the scene funny. Two dumb actors discussing why you will or won't get nominated for an Oscar, for playing somebody with a mental disability.

  • joshboardfox5

    Well, this is interesting. I was wondering if Rex Reed made fun of other overweight actresses in movies. So I checked his review of Hairspray, with Nikki Blonsky. He loved the film, and calls her the "porky high school teenybopper." Okay. Not so bad. He later gives the backhanded compliment of of her "having talent as big as her waist line." And his last comment on her weight is "She's going places…and I don't mean Weight Watchers."
    It's so odd. He loved the movie, yet has three comments on her weight, when the only relevant one is the initial description of her character.
    I went to his review of Precious: Based on the Novel Sapphire. He calls the movie "unforgettable" and describes the protagonist as a "300 pound retarded teenager."
    Uh, okay. She had a low IQ, but was hardly what would be considered "retarded."

  • Apple

    I AGREE WITH HIM…IF SHE WAS THIN….SHE WOULD NOT BE FUNNY….FAT…LIKE SEX….SELLS….ESP IN COMEDY….SHE WILL PROLLY BE DEAD SOON LIKE FARLEY OR CANDY IF SHE DOESNT REALIZE FAT IS NOT CUTE…..PERSONALLY I DONT THINK SHES FUNNY AT ALL….JUST FUNNY LOOKING…ROSEANNE DID IT BETTER AND MORE REAL !

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