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Rex Reed Still Hates Melissa McCarthy, Fat People

Reviews
by Sam Adams
July 3, 2014 2:46 PM
17 Comments
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Susan Sarandon and Melissa McCarthy in "Tammy"

In a world full of unpredictability, there are still a few things you can count on. The sun will rise, the Earth will keep turning, and Rex Reed really, really hates fat people. It's barely been a year since the New York Observer's film critic got into hot water for calling Melissa McCarthy "tractor-sized" and a "hippo" in his "Identity Thief" review, and he's back at it again with his review of McCarthy's new movie, "Tammy." (Various non-crazytown reviews are collected here.) Here are a few excerpts, with commentary.

"Tammy" is not just a celebration of everything vulgar and stupid in the dumbing down of American movies. It’s a rambling, pointless and labored attempt to cash in on Ms. McCarthy’s fan base without respect for any audience with a collective IQ of 10. And it’s about as funny as a liver transplant.


Rex Reed should rank all movies by how they compare to surgical procedures. "Transformers: Age of Extinction" is as thrilling as a splenectomy, but not as painful as having your wisdom teeth removed.

With all due respect, I bow to her ability to pander to the lowest instincts of her groupies by making box office obesity profitable. So, fool that I am, I went to "Tammy" hoping for the best and ready to give Ms. McCarthy every benefit of the doubt.


Dear Rex Reed: I am not convinced you know the meaning of the phrases "with all due respect" and "benefit of the doubt."

One thing you gotta admit: however amiable and attractive she might be in real life, the star makes no attempt to beautify herself onscreen. 


So Reed concedes that McCarthy is, at least hypothetically, "amiable and attractive" in real life. This is progress, sort of.

twitter.com/KristyPuchko
Nothing she’s ever done before will prepare you for what she looks like here, with swollen feet, tag-sale clothes and hair that resembles a nesting place for field mice.


Actually, McCarthy's character isn't the one with swollen feet: That's her grandmother, played by Susan Sarandon. Anyone can make a small mistake, but given that the latter's edema is a symptom of diabetes and her going on a road trip without her medication becomes a major plot point, it's kind of a big deal.

Working as a shuffling, nose-picking waitress for a greasy junk-food chain called Topper Jack’s and looking like she’s been wolfing down most of the grease all by herself.


We get it. Melissa McCarthy looks bad. Really bad. Not, like, Charlize Theron in "Monster" bad, but then, when beautiful, skinny actresses make themselves look terrible on screen, it's brave. Also, no one eats grease. That's just gross.

To make her grandma’s bail after she plies a couple of teenagers with illegal drugs and alcohol, Tammy robs another Topper Jack’s with a paper bag over her head, and they both end up at a lesbian jamboree that sets the LGBT movement back 20 years.


Um, why? I get that holding an impromptu Viking funeral for a trashed jetski is not exactly progressive, but I'm sure "the movement" can survive. (Also, note that Reed then spends a paragraph recounting "Tammy's" plot in its entirety, right down to the final scene. Way to meet that word count.)

At one point, Grandma kicks her granddaughter out of their crummy motel room and forces Tammy to sleep on the ground while she has sex with a man she picks up in a barbecue joint and a raccoon eats Tammy’s candy bar. 


Actually, it's a miniature powdered donut, not a candy bar. Another minor detail, but it's a good choice. Donuts are funnier.

The screenplay is sub-mental. In interviews, Ms. McCarthy and her husband admit it was written in moving cars, on napkins and toilet paper. I believe it. The characters seem hateful and retarded, but maybe they’re just dumb as tree stumps. 


Come on, man, nobody says "tree stumps" anymore. That's just rude.

The purpose of every Melissa McCarthy movie is the same: Take the most repulsive loser you can conjure up and make her sympathetic and lovable, proving you can find beauty in anything if you look hard enough. This one fails to even do that. Instead of following any kind of linear narrative, the script limps from one phony vignette to the next, linked only by a different road sign. Without structure, trajectory or logic, the result becomes tragically boring. 


First, I kind of doubt you are an expert on Melissa McCarthy movies; I'm not even sure you're qualified to weigh in on the ones you have seen. Second, this supposed template fits exactly two of McCarthy's previous films: "The Heat" and "Identity Thief" — not "Bridesmaids" or "This Is 40" or "The Hangover Part III," let alone the ones where she played characters with names like "Paramedic" and "Nico the Goth Girl."

In the chaos, I applaud the star — not for any discernible talent, but for sheer stamina. Her entire performance — if you can call it that — consists of being slapped, slugged, dumped in various lakes and rivers, and bounced off walls and pavements like a big rubber Shmoo doll. She isn’t smart, imaginative or creative enough to be a real female clown, like Lucille Ball. Nothing that resembles a fresh approach to slapstick farce ever engages the mind or the eye. Instead she recycles every fatso cliché from John Candy to Totie Fields, which only turns the viewer cynical.

Is it me, or is it worse when Rex Reed pretends to praise Melissa McCarthy than when he's just flat-out insulting her?

This movie is so bad it almost makes me take back everything I said about "Identity Thief" and "The Heat."

Please do.


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17 Comments

  • anonymous | July 12, 2014 10:12 PMReply

    Reed is a shallow sexist jerk.

  • Leah | July 12, 2014 9:52 AMReply

    Only overweight woman and people with a low IQ think her last three movies were funny. Without bringing your own insecurities into the picture you cannot possibly tell me that you can qualify her as a talented actress. Her character is always the same; each of her characters in the SNL skits she appeared in when she last hosted were also the same, i.e., not funny.

  • Michael Grace | July 7, 2014 12:59 AMReply

    The woman in TAMMY is grotesque! Rex Reed is so right.

  • cadavra | July 7, 2014 12:32 AMReply

    "Instead of following any kind of linear narrative, the script limps from one phony vignette to the next, linked only by a different road sign. Without structure, trajectory or logic, the result becomes tragically boring."

    Sorry, Sam, but that is EXACTLY the description of "Bridesmaids"--a bunch of Wiig's rejected SNL sketches sloppily tied together by a clothesline vaguely resembling a plot.

  • Erik | July 5, 2014 6:50 AMReply

    Dude's completely right. And to Sam Adams -- bringing up movies where McCarthy was a tertiary character at best fails to acknowledge Reed's point. She is a fat, disgusting tractor trailer in all of the movies she stars in. Point blank, that's the undisputable truth. And given the fact that she co-wrote this lame piece of trash, it would appear as though she is quite comfortable being that character. Until she does something different (note: I did not say lose weight), she is incorrect to dispute Reed's commentary. The extent to what she has shown as a leading lady is that she can play the fat slob.

    On another note, how many more years til she drops 120 pounds? Over/under at 5?

  • Rex Reed | July 5, 2014 6:21 AMReply

    Reed is right. She's a pig. She should be rolled down a hill that never ends.

  • Michael Grace | July 7, 2014 1:00 AM

    To compare this loathsome woman to a pig is an insult to pigs!

  • CinemaPsycho | July 5, 2014 12:23 AMReply

    When she goes out of her way to look terrible on screen, her appearance is fair game. Film is a visual medium, and he's merely describing how she looks. Why do you think actors spend all that time working out, getting liposuction, etc.? It's because people are superficial.

    "Tammy" doesn't look like an average person. She looks worse than the average person. It's not her size that's the problem, it's that they've made her look like a homeless person. If McCarthy were playing a homeless person, that wouldn't be a problem (but that might require some acting skills). Is this the role she and her husband dream of her playing?? Why not class it up and prove people like Rex Reed wrong? Show some imagination and some talent and dream big (no pun intended) and aim higher than this low-rent crap.

  • Tammy | July 4, 2014 6:49 PMReply

    Rex Reed, are you sure you saw this movie? My husband and me saw it today and some of your details are incorrect. This movie was even better than expected. Very funny and it had a meaning to it.

  • Catherine | July 4, 2014 3:05 PMReply

    Of course, he's right.

  • stellakatsmith | July 4, 2014 9:28 AMReply

    Why do women need to be a certain size to be okay??? What a bunch of idiocy, sexism is as bad as racism...all the isms are wrong, what does Rex Reed look like currently could he possibly be old? Is that something we beautiful people want to look at???? or is that just evil like the rampant sexism he promotes??

  • Adam | July 3, 2014 5:39 PMReply

    I think it's Sam Adams missing the point, not Rex Reed. I think McCarthy is very talented but she has been typecast in crude, lame fat-girl roles. It's not really controversial to say that. A lot of people are becoming frustrated by the movie vehicles she chooses, which are inferior to her comedic ability. It's so disingenuous for McCarthy and the Identity Thief people to get their panties in a wad over Reed's "tractor trailer" comment when in the filmmakers have McCarthy exploit herself as a gargantuan hippo. I think "tractor trailer" is actually an apt way to describe it.

    Usually, Indiewire's articles are very thoughtful and interesting. In my opinion this is one of the weaker articles I have seen on the site.

  • Blah | July 3, 2014 5:33 PMReply

    Why single out Rex Reed? This trashy Hollywood movie has a 28% from Rottentomatoes critics.

  • BOn | July 3, 2014 5:03 PMReply

    This is not an article. Have this conversation with a partner or friend, spare us.

  • Mary A | July 3, 2014 4:33 PMReply

    He's 100% RIGHT! She's out of her depth and not strong enough to carry a movie.

  • Sally Field | July 3, 2014 4:23 PMReply

    Why do you guys waste your time writing entire articles about how awful Rex Reed is? Nobody likes him anyway and puts personal attacks in most of his reviews, while nobody cares.

  • anne | July 3, 2014 5:22 PM

    Sorry you don't like Reed. However, that doesn't negate his review. He's right. I don't agree with any thoughts he has on McCarthy's size. That she probably can't help. However, she CAN help being vulgar, obscene and in some cases, mean-spirited. She chooses to appear in movies and TV as a vulgarian----she could turn down some roles--she could appear in something that shows she's an actress---not just a cartoonish, cheap mockery of a character.

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