Making the world safe for filmgoers since 2002.
It has been many years since Rex Reed has been relevant as a serious film critic or even as a pop culture personality. There was a time when he was a fixture on talk shows, and he even played the pre-op, male version of Raquel Welch’s transsexual titular character in MYRA BRECKINRIDGE, but that was a long time ago, in a time before cable. So it is with a jaundiced eye that I note Mr. Reed’s ad hominen (ad mulierem?) attack on Melissa McCarthy’s performance in IDENTITY THIEF, the which I will not further publicize by quoting, but instead note that based on the language and imagery used, apparently Mr. Reed does not care for women with a little, or a lot of, meat on their bones. In fact, he seems to be offended that they not only exist, but also that they dare to show themselves in public without apologizing for their very existence.
The real question is why he chose this film to make his attack. Let’s not forget that McCarthy was nominated for an Oscar(tm) for all but stealing BRIDESMAIDS away from Kristen Wiig. Did that make her weight somehow untouchable? IDENTITY THIEF is nowhere near that category of film, and might justly inspire a fit of pique in any viewer, but to take the level of criticism to this low? He doesn’t like the film, fair enough, it’s no masterpiece despite McCarthy and Jason Bateman giving it their all and then some, but trouncing McCarthy’s performance by conflating it with her weight is not only beside the point artistically, it smacks of a desperate attempt by a fading taste-maker to get some attention.
McCarthy has never apologized for being a plus-size woman. Far from it, in her choices as an actress, her characters are always confident, sexual, and aside from BRIDESMAIDS. beautiful, though one could make a case that the string of pearls that character always sported showed not a lack of interest in looking good, but rather an eccentric understanding of that concept. Molly Flynn, from television’s Mike and Molly is not only all of the above, she is also the voice of reason in a sitcom populated by lovable flakes with varying degrees of life skills. In short, McCarthy presents to the world, on screen and off, a strong woman who doesn’t live or die by another person’s opinion. Why isn’t that being celebrated? It’s a statement about gender that is not made often enough, even among the Size 2 set of this world, especially in cinema, where the term “heroin chic” may have gone of out favor, but the celebration of the unnaturally gaunt look hasn’t. Not every woman is, or can be, or even wants to be, a size 2, and even among those who are, there is no guarantee that in achieving that size, they will also achieve the figure type of an adolescent boy to which most designers cater, and have, by extension, convinced women is the ideal. I refer you to the Venus de Milo, a size 14 at least. And I respectfully invite Mr. Reed to suck it.
Fortunately, when someone like Reed makes a faux pas of this nature, it doesn’t diminish the object of his ridicule, instead it brings to mind that children’s rhyme that has never been more apt “I’m rubber and you’re glue, what you say bounces off me and sticks to you.”