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Rex Reed Says Melissa McCarthy Bases "Career On Being Obnoxious And Fat," Invokes Constitutional Right To Be A Jerk

by Kevin Jagernauth
February 11, 2013 3:22 PM
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Identity Thief Rex Reed

So, a couple of things happened over the weekend. A major snowstorm nailed the east coast of the country, "Identity Thief" opened to huge numbers making it the best R-rated comedy bow of all time, and the largely irrelevant and already cantankerous Rex Reed penned a scathing review of the movie. Not just scathing, but also bizarrely personal, the critic took dead aim at Melissa McCarthy calling the actress "tractor-sized," "humongous," "female hippo" and "a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success." As FilmDrunk noted near the end of last year, the critic has an Armond White-esque tendency to say outrageous things, but this seemed to well over the line, and the internet and media responded swiftly to denounce Reed. Well, you can't keep a cranky, seventy-four year old critic down.

But first, let's get some perspective: "Identity Thief" is a terrible, terrible movie. But it has zero to do with McCarthy's weight and more to do with a thin premise, executed with the belief that if the actress rehashes her "Bridesmaids" routine but less honed, and more outrageous, it will equal comedy gold. And there are countless more ways in which "Identity Thief" is spectacularly awful (a story that could've knocked out at least two subplots, logic and plot gaps that defy comprehension, dead pacing and more). But turning to personal attacks, again, is just cheap and low. And given an opportunity to respond on WOR710 AM with Mark Simone, instead of making a simply apology and getting on with his life, Reed stoked the flames.

Saying that his jerky comments are "constitutionally protected, so there's nothing anybody can do," Reed dragged out a conspiracy theory claiming that Universal Pictures was using his review to leverage moviegoers to buy tickets. Uh, okay. He then launched into an explanatoin that was a bizarre mix of health advocacy, a lame and hard-to-buy assertion that his comments weren't about McCarthy but about her character in the film and more. Here's what he said:

"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."

This is probably the closest we'll get to an actual apology from Reed, and it won't be the last time he writes something that's simply bizarre and perhaps mean. If anything, it's likely the most press Reed has received in a while, and hopefully by next week, we can go back to not reading his reviews at all. [IndieWire

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More: Identity Thief, Melissa McCarthy

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  • Debbie | July 2, 2014 12:27 AMReply

    Rex Reed is sorta right. MM bases her career on a stereotype - the fat slob stereotype. It's insulting, and I'm a tiny, little thing.

  • Justin | June 14, 2014 6:52 AMReply

    But.....she is fat and obnoxious. Terribly so. It's time we stop babying fat people. It isn't a disease any more than alcoholism. It's people with weak minds and addictive personalities that don't have people around them telling them they are too fat or drunk all the time. Being surrounded by people that call you fat sucks, I'm sure, but its better than being surrounded by enablers.

  • Barb | February 12, 2013 8:07 PMReply

    Mr. Reed you are mean mean man. I am so sorry you made your living attacking people and not for their acting abilities but for their outward appearance. Any executives that hired you and that pays your salary for being such a rotten bastard for no reason and allowed to attack a person's physical appearance should be seriously looked at and fired. Please look in the mirror, take a good look, before you say anything else that is so awful as you did to this wonderfully talented actress. Shame on you.

  • Danny | February 12, 2013 6:02 PMReply

    Rex Reed's writing style is in your face. Go watch You Tube clips of Rex when he was a young man in 1969 he was a bitchy queen back then too. Reed's joke about John Wayne being a drunk and getting an Oscar was hilarious!

    As for Melissa McCarthy I disagree with Kevin here, Rex is correct McCarty is famous for being obnoxious and obese in her films and she's not funny! Rex was just speaking the truth this man knows a lot more about the inner workings of Hollywood than you do Kevin he may be 74 years old but he's seen a lot and knows a lot about the film industry.

  • d | February 12, 2013 6:34 PM

    What does knowing the inner workings of Hollywood have to do with his opinion that McCarthy is not funny? That makes it true?

    Rex Reed has always been an ass. Check out his review of Oldboy, for example.

  • Dr. Dawn Hopper | February 12, 2013 1:34 AMReply

    Rex Reed is a figment in his own imagination. What if the actor-in his version of a bad movie- was an alcoholic or drug addict? How about gay?

  • Chellie | February 12, 2013 12:08 AMReply

    No one even remembered (or cared) who Rex Reed was before he spouted his drivel. In neither "Bridesmaids" nor "Identity Theft" is Melissa's weight mentioned or used for comic purposes. She's funny & she does physical comedy well. Rex Reed is old & does bitchy queen well.

  • Zack | February 12, 2013 8:38 AM

    I remembered who he was because he gave "The Dark Knight" a bad review because he didn't understand why Batman was acting like he'd never met the Joker before because Jack Nicholson already played him. But yeah, he's definitely better at being a dumbass than writing reviews.

  • Trig Ryder | February 11, 2013 10:51 PMReply

    If Melissa wasn't as fat as she is, she would not be starring in this movie. She lets other ppl use her size as a source of humor. She being fat is part of the joke, both in this movie and in Bridesmaids. I don't see why ppl are so angry at Rex Reed for referencing her weight, when part of the reason ppl laugh during those movies is the underlying fact that a fat woman is performing those "comedic" acts.

  • Chellie | February 12, 2013 12:15 AM

    Dude, he is not "referencing her weight" when he calls her tractor-sized and a female hippo.
    He is using derogatory names. RR was being mean-spirited & viscious for reasons only his bigoted mind knows. This wasn't a movie about a fat woman, it was a movie with a fat woman in it. In fact it was originally written with a man playing Melissa's part.

  • Bobby wow | February 11, 2013 9:46 PMReply

    Rex Reed is a miserable little man who has made a living critizing others who create for a living. He should probably kill himself. At least he could be remembered for that one betterment of humantiy.

  • Robyn Miller | February 11, 2013 7:57 PMReply

    With that nose you have alot of nerve!!!!!!! I always told my daughter that those that made fun of her had problems. Believe me Rex you don't like yourself, or you would not attack others. Really what matters in life? Beauty comes from the inside, IT is not outside that matters. GET A LIFE!!!!! AND APOLOGISE!!!!TO MELLISSA!!!!!

  • Elle | February 11, 2013 7:24 PMReply

    Melissa McCarthy was amazing as a regular on Gilmore Girls for 7 years, and her role in that show had zero references to her weight or her appearance at all. Just because she reached a wider audience by playing a stereotypic role on Bridesmaids doesn't mean that her entire career has been made up of such roles.

  • AS | February 11, 2013 6:24 PMReply

    And you're telling me Zack Galfinakas isn't partly funny because how horrible he looks? Get over yourself, whatever makes me laugh...doesn't matter how.

  • Douche | February 11, 2013 5:24 PMReply

    I love the passive aggressive tactic movie bloggers utilize to dismiss a persons completely valid and sound opinion. McCarthy DOES use her weight as a tool for comedy. Anyone who deny that is clueless.

  • ap | February 11, 2013 11:04 PM

    Even if she does use her weight as a tool he has no right to call her "tractor-sized," "humongous," "female hippo". That's just rude and really unnecessary. There are other ways to say such thing. The guy is an asshole,end of discussion.

  • Zack | February 11, 2013 8:39 PM

    Is someone who does that obnoxious "I love [thing you hate]" thing really calling someone else passive-aggressive?

  • david | February 11, 2013 8:20 PM

    The completely valid and sound opinion of... Rex Reed. LOL.

  • Camp | February 11, 2013 5:03 PMReply

    Roseanne. Barr.

  • Kristen | February 11, 2013 5:02 PMReply

    This old queen's opinion hasn't been relative since I was in high school.

  • Nigrodomus | February 11, 2013 5:00 PMReply

    Well, the motherfucker be right. That right there is a big fat bitch.

  • Vicki | February 11, 2013 5:00 PMReply

    I love Melissa McCarthy but honeslty, anyone can act. It not rocket science.

  • coke | February 11, 2013 11:07 PM

    " anyone can act " Hmm , no they can't...

  • Zack | February 11, 2013 8:40 PM

    Watch Rex Reed in "Myra Breckinridge" and tell me anyone can act.
    (I'm not serious. Don't watch "Myra Breckinridge".)

  • A-Man | February 11, 2013 5:44 PM

    No they can't. No they can't. No they can't... Actors may not exactly deserve the hideous amounts of money and acclaim they get (as after all, performance is only one part of the artform of cinema) but they do it better than most.

    That's why they get the paying gigs.
    And amateurs don't.

    Just check out any budding actors showreel and you'll see what I mean, it's like they forget to even be human...

  • Sencho | February 11, 2013 4:56 PMReply


    Should we assume then that you have an eidetic memory for Rex Reed reviews? I mean, you're remember a very long time back to recall with such ease Mr. Reed's comments on two former SNLers who haven't been in a film (or among the living) in about 20 years.

    And spare us the "bully" card. We all know what a real bully is, and it's not an aging Hollywood gossip taking jabs at a mediocre comedienne who makes money from being fat (a la Kevin James).

  • beth | February 11, 2013 4:50 PMReply

    Funny, I don't recall Rex Reed doing this type of review of John Candy's work or calling John Belushi's weight into question when speaking of his comedic skills. Tell me, is only fat women you are so critical of??? I said it once and I will say it again...Rex Reed is a BULLY and should be ashamed of exercising his "constitutional rights" to back his inexcusable actions up!

  • Sencho | February 11, 2013 4:48 PMReply

    Reed said McCarthy is "a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success". You can't blame Rex for telling the truth. I said much the same thing about her just last week, although I think my words were "I guess she's supposed to be funny because she's fat."

    McCarthy is John Candy, Chris Farley, etc. ... except that she's still breathing and overeating.

  • Clay | February 11, 2013 4:36 PMReply

    Who cares. She is hilarious. How many women base their career off of being talentless but insanly hot. A hell of a lot more talentless women are on screen for being hot, than fat women are for being talented.

  • Robin | February 11, 2013 5:03 PM

    Good point!

  • Miller | February 11, 2013 4:35 PMReply

    Well, if it is his constitutional right to call someone a 'hippo' then it's my constitutional right to call him a bitter old queen.

  • Anderson | February 11, 2013 4:18 PMReply

    Now, more than ever, more critics and more journalists ( and more twitter people) have agendas. If they don't like celebrities , they will nitpick and try to find many ways to personally attack celebrities and trash their work. This whole social media has made it okay to bully famous people.

    But, to be fair, Melissa McCarthy has hit it big by being a female version of John Candy, and many of the jokes are about her character's sloppiness and her big frame. So, McCarthy should not be upset nor angry , because she is playing these stereotypical fatty roles for big laughs. I hope Melissa tries to diversify and portray different roles.

  • TARDIS TIME | February 11, 2013 9:54 PM

    her character in bridesmaids was not particularly loud or obnoxious. she was rather odd and ultimately lovable. her character in identity theft isn't loud either. her clothes are.

    i agree that she seems to have more depth than what is required for broad comedies, and so i hope to see her in a character driven indie too. other than that though i don't think you know what you're talking about. and it's my constitutional right to be a jerk.

  • Loni | February 11, 2013 7:22 PM

    To Sean,

    I understand what you mean but maybe she will do that once her movie does not premiere at #1? I think we all know that if something is working for you, you should keep doing it. Especially if it makes you a millionaire. Hey, I wouldn't be affected 1 bit if I was her by this guys comment who I've never even heard of.

  • Sean | February 11, 2013 6:02 PM

    Only thing is John Candy played loveable goofballs. Melissa is doing the same obniouxous, loud, in your face character. It's already tired after a couple of movies.
    Someone needs to take note and put the character depth that given to her in Bridesmaids an make her a real human in some indie drama comedy.

  • Lou | February 11, 2013 5:53 PM

    Well said.

  • No | February 11, 2013 4:02 PMReply

    No one has really paid that much attention to Rex Reed, not since he acted in one of the worst films of all times: "Myra Breckinridge," was about a transexual before transexualizing became accepted as normal. He played "Myron."

  • Superzoom | February 11, 2013 3:54 PMReply

    These comments by Rex Reed are coming from a hack who is both overweight and obnoxious. I am guessing that his comments on Melissa McCarthy's weight stem from Reed's sense of self-loathing.

    Melissa McCarthy is a comic genius who happens to be large. She has every right to explore that comedically, just as other comedians get to reference their own race/religion/unfortunate-plastic-surgery/whatever (Note: This is not an endorsement of "Identity Thief").

  • KB | February 11, 2013 9:51 PM


    her character in bridesmaid's wasn't any more vulgar than wendi mclendon-covey's character. in fact mccarthy's character actually had a really sweet side. i honestly don't think anyone else could have done as wonderful a job in that part and it had everything to do with her sense of humor not her weight.

  • anne | February 11, 2013 5:44 PM

    She is not a 'comic genius who happens to be fat." If she were not heavy, she wouldn't get any roles. Her characters are vulgar at any weight.

  • John Michaels | February 11, 2013 3:38 PMReply

    . . . we love her because she's fat. . . her humor is based on her being fat. Is she funny, yes, talented yes, a solid comedic actor, yes . . . but we cherish her because she's "doesn't care about her body image."

    So if you praise her for her weight she can be equally critiqued for it too.

    And while we do need a counter-point to some of the waif like actress out there, we also need to be aware that Melissa's success is a bad image to support, too.

  • d | February 11, 2013 3:30 PMReply

    I don't remember anyone saying he didn't have a constitutional right to write what he did. What a dumbass.

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