Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
First Reviews: 'Hail, Caesar!' Is the Coens at Their Best First Reviews: 'Hail, Caesar!' Is the Coens at Their Best A.O. Scott and Why It's a Critic's Duty to Be Wrong A.O. Scott and Why It's a Critic's Duty to Be Wrong Film Writers Narrowly Escape Tragedy in Sundance Accident Film Writers Narrowly Escape Tragedy in Sundance Accident Is There More to Louis C.K.'s 'Horace and Pete' Than Its Surprise Release? Is There More to Louis C.K.'s 'Horace and Pete' Than Its Surprise Release? New Classic: Asghar Farhadi's 'A Separation' New Classic: Asghar Farhadi's 'A Separation' New Classics: Greg Mottola's 'Adventureland' New Classics: Greg Mottola's 'Adventureland' 'Manchester by the Sea,' Indiewire's Sundance Critics Poll Winner, Is Part Tragedy, Part Farce 'Manchester by the Sea,' Indiewire's Sundance Critics Poll Winner, Is Part Tragedy, Part Farce Daily Reads: Why the Disney Vault Needs to Go Away, How the Republican Primaries Have Broken 'SNL,' and More Daily Reads: Why the Disney Vault Needs to Go Away, How the Republican Primaries Have Broken 'SNL,' and More Daily Reads: The 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy, When TV Drama Cover The Iowa Caucus, and More Daily Reads: The 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy, When TV Drama Cover The Iowa Caucus, and More The Totally Insane Ending to 'Little Boy' Has Critics Fuming The Totally Insane Ending to 'Little Boy' Has Critics Fuming Daily Reads: The 'Hollywood Blackout' Controversy at the 1996 Academy Awards, Everybody's a Critic and That's How it Should Be, and More Daily Reads: The 'Hollywood Blackout' Controversy at the 1996 Academy Awards, Everybody's a Critic and That's How it Should Be, and More Is 'Horace and Pete' Worth $5? And Who's Asking, Anyway? Is 'Horace and Pete' Worth $5? And Who's Asking, Anyway? Kristen Wiig's 'AbracaDeborah' Is the Non-Existent Sundance Movie Everyone's Talking About Kristen Wiig's 'AbracaDeborah' Is the Non-Existent Sundance Movie Everyone's Talking About Adam Sandler's 'The Ridiculous 6' Is Getting Some of the Year's Most Hilariously Scathing Reviews Adam Sandler's 'The Ridiculous 6' Is Getting Some of the Year's Most Hilariously Scathing Reviews We Combined All the Coen Brothers Rankings We Combined All the Coen Brothers Rankings 'The Gift': A Great Thriller (Almost) Ruined By a Terrible Ending 'The Gift': A Great Thriller (Almost) Ruined By a Terrible Ending Daily Reads: Separating Bill Cosby From Cliff Huxtable, How Gregory Peck Brought Diversity to the Academy, and More Daily Reads: Separating Bill Cosby From Cliff Huxtable, How Gregory Peck Brought Diversity to the Academy, and More IMDb Ranks the Top 25 Movies of the Last 25 Years IMDb Ranks the Top 25 Movies of the Last 25 Years Fear of a Black Dingus: Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight' Fear of a Black Dingus: Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight' 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens': Why Rey's Hypercompetence Is a Feature, Not a Bug 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens': Why Rey's Hypercompetence Is a Feature, Not a Bug

Rex Reed Responds to Criticism Over 'Identity Thief' Review

Criticwire By Matt Singer | Criticwire February 11, 2013 at 12:20PM

He claims his review is Constitutionally protected, and blames the anger on an organized campaign by Universal Pictures.
19
"Identity Thief."
"Identity Thief."

Hating the new comedy "Identity Thief" is one thing; a lot of critics hate this movie (its D+ average on the Criticwire Network is one of the lowest in the site's brief history). But hating its star, Melissa McCarthy, and going out of your way to ridicule her weight, is another. In his review of "Identity Thief" for The New York Observer, film critic Rex Reed did exactly that, calling McCarthy a "tractor-sized" "humongous" "female hippo" and "a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success."

Reed's review has drawn controversy from the moment it was published last week, and it hasn't died down yet -- it even became a topic of conversation on The Today ShowThrough it all, Reed himself has remained silent; I reached out to him for comment on Friday and got no response, but earlier today he finally addressed the review on WOR 710 AM with Mark Simone, who introduced Reed as "the greatest living film critic" before letting him speak his mind about the controversy.

Reed certainly didn't apologize to McCarthy or anyone else, asserting that his review is "constitutionally protected, so there's nothing anybody can do" to stop him, and blaming the outrage on "the big publicity machine called Universal Pictures" who have organized people to attack him out of their "desire to sell tickets to a bad movie." He also took credit for "Identity Thief"'s big weekend at the box office ("That's what sold the tickets") and insisted that he cares deeply about obesity-related health issues:

"My point was that I object to using health issues like obesity as comic talking points... [McCarthy] is basing her career on being obnoxious and being overweight. And I don't think that's funny. I have too many friends that have died of obesity-related illnesses, heart problems and diabetes, and I have actually lost friends to this. I have helped people try to lose weight, and I don't find this to be the subject of a lot of humor. I have a perfect right to say that. My review was really more about the movie and about the character she plays in the movie than it is about her. I don't care how much she weighs. I don't care how much Melissa McCarthy weighs. She wants to be fat? Mark, she's crying all the way to the bank."

At various points during the interview, Reed forgot the names of both "Identity Thief" and Melissa McCarthy -- although he did pay her one compliment, calling her "very classy" for remaining silent about the whole kerfuffle. 

I haven't seen "Identity Thief." I can't tell you to what extent the movie makes jokes about McCarthy's weight. But, I don't know, to me it feels like calling a woman a tractor-sized hippo is not exactly the best way to show your intense concern about America's obesity crisis. And if you really object to Hollywood using obesity as a comic talking point, maybe don't make jokes about a woman's weight in your review. Maybe I'm just sensitive.

Read more of "Declined: In 'Identity Thief,' Bateman's Bankable Billing Can't Lift This Flick Out of the Red."

[H/T The Futurist]

This article is related to: Rex Reed


E-Mail Updates