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In Praise of Melissa McCarthy

by Melissa Silverstein
May 10, 2011 4:15 AM
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I finally saw Bridesmaids last night. LOVED IT. Will have a longer piece later this week, but I wanted to single out Melissa McCarthy for a gush of love immediately. She almost stole the movie from Kristen Wiig. Almost, but not quite. I was so impressed with how they handled the different characters, allowing her to shine in her moments while keeping the story focus on Wiig's character Annie.

I first became more aware of McCarthy last year when there was the stupid controversy over a Marie Claire piece that tried to shame fat people. McCarthy in case you don't know her stars as Molly on the hit CBS sitcom Mike and Molly and has performed improv for over a decade. But it will be her work in Bridesmaids that will take her to a whole different level.

She's great because she's so fucking funny in this movie. I never stopped laughing when she was onscreen. She plays Megan, the sister of the groom. The thing about McCarthy is that she is fat, and fat women never have fun in films. They might laugh but always when people are laughing at them. They are always the sad sacks waiting on the side watching the main characters and their happy lives. They also butched her up so that you would go right to the lesbian stereotype. They hit a lot of stereotypes but put a great spin on them.

While Bridesmaids might be a breakthrough for women in comedy, McCarthy does a great service to all of us who are not stick figures. She shows a woman who is fun and sexual and raunchy and real and ready to beat the crap out of you on a moment's notice. That's what was so great about her character, you had no idea what was coming next. So refreshing.

EW's Karen Valby is equally impressed with McCarthy as she wrote in the piece All I Want for Mother's Day is For Bridesmaids' Melissa McCarthy to Be a Movie Star. Amen sister.

Here's a great quote from McCarthy on the film and what it could do for women.

In my opinion I think it’s a game changer. If you see a script with two great female parts it’s a win. But six! Six in a movie, six fully formed great characters. So often I see these scripts or these movies and think what are they talking about? They’re fighting over ‘I saw him first and that’s my nail polish and you can’t wear that color.’ It’s the silliest little girl arguments. I have never had that conversation and I don’t know anyone who has. Everyone I know is always like ‘Who the hell are these women?’ There’s always that sense of well, women are kind of horrible to each other and that’s just how it is, but you’re still friends with them. No, my friends are actually wonderful. I think in lieu of a character or a point of view it’s become these four different choices: the bitch, the slut, the door mat, and the people pleaser. That’s it. You get four types of women. I think in Bridesmaids, Kristen and Annie sat down and said “Okay, who are these women specifically?’ This movie is just something so dear to my heart.

Other good news is the McCarthy is writing a female ensemble comedy with Bridesmaids co-writer Annine Mumolo based on an idea by her husband who plays the Air Marshall in Bridesmaids. (I'm not giving any more away.)

Here's Melissa on Chelsea Lately

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More: Annie Mumolo, Melissa McCarthy

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  • Lisa Huberman | June 18, 2011 6:39 AMReply

    Laura, I would be inclined to agree with you about the Megan character, except for the fact that Melissa dove into the role with such sincerity and commitment. With any other actress the role probably would have been a gross-out gag, but thanks to Melissa's beautiful acting skills I found her to be the warmest and most honest character in the movie.

    I disagree with the article. She didn't almost steal it from Kristen Wiig; she completely stole it from Kristen Wiig. In fact her scenes helped me forgive many of this movies shortcomings.

  • lizriz | May 10, 2011 7:35 AMReply

    I'm seeing this tonight, and I CAN NOT WAIT!!!

    Laura, for what it's worth I remember when Hilary Graham did a short about a women who had to pee for the show "On the Lot," Gary Marshall chastised her for trying to be one of the guys or some such, as opposed to thinking the more likely option was true, that she actually found a woman having to pee pretty funny. He basically said that scatological humor was guy stuff. So I would say that something like that is partially why some of us find it pretty revolutionary for women to do scatological humor. It's not my favorite personally - although I am partial to semen jokes :D - but it's always cool to get to see women being funny however they want to be.

  • Laura Clifford | May 10, 2011 7:06 AMReply

    I *despised* the Megan character in this movie, a walking gross out gag. Why people think it's revolutionary for woman to do scatalogical humor is beyond me. The film had it's moments, but it was wildly uneven.

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