Critic Reviews Melissa McCarthy's Identity Thief By Calling Her Fat | The Mary Sue
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Critic Reviews Melissa McCarthy’s New Film By Calling Her Fat

Today in things that make us scream incoherently


Perhaps it’s time for some critics to go back to school. Why? Because they’re giving other critics a bad name by not understanding the job. The latest perpetrator is New York Observer’s Rex Reed, who decided he might as well comment on Melissa McCarthy’s weight in his review of Identity Thief because…because…nope, sorry, can’t think of a single reason. 

If you feel like reading the entire review, you can do so here, but I’m going to highlight the offending parts here and I’d suggest not giving them the added pageviews. Reed begins his review by saying, “How many ways can a grown person waste valuable time and lose vital I.Q. points at the same time? If you’re a movie critic, the possibilities are unlimited. And they all come together in a new chunk of junk called Identity Thief.”

Ok, so he doesn’t like the movie. Honestly, I didn’t think the trailers made it look that great myself, but where Reed goes from there is the issue. He describes McCarthy’s character as a thief then adds in parenthesis, “cacophonous, tractor-sized Melissa McCarthy,” to describe the actress herself. Wow. Really? Was mentioning her weight, and mentioning it in a ridiculously insulting way, necessary? No. Of course not. But that didn’t stop Reed from continuing on that course with a follow-up description of the character as “a screeching, humongous creep.”

Wait, he’s not done.

Yet again, Reed takes the opportunity to needlessly describe McCarthy as a “female hippo” while neglecting to make any anatomical comment on her co-star Jason Bateman. Oh wait, yes he does. Reed writes, “Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) is a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success. Poor Jason Bateman. How did an actor so charming, talented, attractive and versatile get stuck in so much dreck?”

As you can imagine, tons of people, both inside Hollywood and out, came to McCarthy’s defense (because she’s an awesome person). Film critic Jackon Murphy said the “review is just wrong. #1 Rule – no personal attacks.” He’s only 14-years-old and he’s leaps and bounds wiser than the 74-year-old Reed. In the comments on the review itself, Facebook user Charlene Naomi Eldon also had some choice words:

Look, from what I can tell, you’re calling it like you see it- yes, Melissa McCarthy is overweight and plays obnoxious characters. However, I’d like you to look at her male counterparts and ask yourself which of them has ever brought you to such hostility before. Jonah Hill, Seth Rogan, Jason Sudeikis- the list of overweight and unattractive men who are cast in wildly popular comedic roles goes on. This is because as a culture, we can tolerate an ugly man as long as he’s funny, but a woman has to be both attractive and talented (in that order) to be deemed worthy of a leading role. Check yourself, Mr. Reed- you’re part of the problem.

In this instance, I’m reminded of when author Bret Easton Ellis asserted Kathryn Bigelow was only getting attention for her work because she’s attractive. So basically, no matter what you look like, if you’re a woman in Hollywood, you’re fucked. Some people will always believe a woman got to where she is in life because of her looks, not her talent. But that apparently applies whether you’re traditionally attractive or not.

This is not the first time we’ve seen a film/television critic critiquing something other than the topic at hand though. The New York Times has insulted the viewers of HBO’s Game of Thrones not once but twice, while “reviewing” the show itself. So what gives?

Many see these types of articles as “trolling” or “baiting,” purposely saying something offensive in order to get attention. But we can’t assume that and honestly, I think it gives some people too much credit. To me, Reed’s piece reads as someone who’s extremely angry that a woman has become successful despite his feeling that because he finds her unattractive, she shouldn’t be. And instead of reviewing a film and its actors by performance alone, he vomited his vitriol all over the internet for everyone to see. Since when did movie or television reviews become about something other than the production? By the way, Identity Thief took the number one spot at the box office this weekend with $36.6 million.

It’s ok to not find McCarthy funny, there are plenty of comedians out there I don’t care for, but what is the point of insulting her appearance? At all, but especially in a review of a film. It says nothing about her performance and says everything about Reed as a person. He thinks McCarthy isn’t up to snuff in the looks department? Well, I think he isn’t up to snuff in the movie critics department. Because…because…frankly, Reed, you’re doing it wrong.

(via The Hollywood Reporter)

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Jill Pantozzi is a pop-culture journalist and host who writes about all things nerdy and beyond! She’s Editor in Chief of the geek girl culture site The Mary Sue (Abrams Media Network), and hosts her own blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” ( She co-hosts the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast along with superhero historian Alan Kistler, contributed to a book of essays titled “Chicks Read Comics,” (Mad Norwegian Press) and had her first comic book story in the IDW anthology, “Womanthology.” In 2012, she was featured on National Geographic’s "Comic Store Heroes," a documentary on the lives of comic book fans and the following year she was one of many Batman fans profiled in the documentary, "Legends of the Knight."