I Weigh in on…Rex Reed vs Melissa McCarthy

At the Movies Blog
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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.

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