Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sweet Melissa

Tongues are wagging about Rex Reed's pan of the weekend's big film Identity Theft.  The surprise isn't the thumbs down--it's gotten bad reviews everywhere--or even that anyone pays attention to Reed any more (or that he's still alive).

No, it's the way he describes star Melissa McCarthy.  Here are some examples: "tractor-sized Melissa McCarthy," "female hippo" and "Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) is a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success."

Okay, she's overweight, we get it.  But does Reed have a point?  After all, actors are hired for their looks, shouldn't that be fair game?

It's a delicate matter.  Not just with Melissa McCarthy, but with any actress.  For most lead actresses, being goodlooking is part of the job, and when their looks fade, their career does as well.  It's just not gallant to draw attention to it.

There seems little question that Reed is being unnecessarily cruel.  It's one thing to criticize a performer, it's another to sling cheap insults. (Though without cheap insults I'm not sure if Reed would have a style.)  But I think what he's doing is even worse--he's not just nasty, he's wrong.  McCarthy is recognized for her size, sure, but she's been working for over a decade and has proved she's about a lot more than that.

The first film I remember her from is the little-seen The Nines (2007) where she did a great job.  She was nominated for an Oscar in Bridesmaids, and didn't just get it for just being fat.  Indeed, there are plenty of overweight actors, so shouldn't Reed ask himself why did this one rise to the top?

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