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Rex Reed Still Hates Melissa McCarthy, Fat People

Photo of Sam Adams By Sam Adams | Criticwire July 3, 2014 at 2:46PM

The critic, who called McCarthy a "hippo" in his "Identity Thief" review, says he gave her new movie the benefit of the doubt. We disagree.
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Susan Sarandon and Melissa McCarthy in "Tammy"
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.

Reed
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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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