Critic Rex Reed Responds To Melissa McCarthy Weight Controversy With The Most Cliche Excuse In The Book

Melissa McCarthy Identity Thief

Melissa McCarthy’s new movie Identity Thief is making a lot of money at the box office, but it’s been at the center of some controversy, namely related to New York Observer critic Rex Reed’s review, which calls McCarthy a “female hippo” and “tractor-sized.”

Unsurprisingly, Reed faced a lot of backlash concerning these unnecessary comments. Now he’s responding to the criticism, blaming Universal for fanning the fire: “This is an organized group of people, believe me. And it’s all being fanned because of Universal’s desire to sell tickets to a bad movie.” Right, because Universal told you to write a review mocking an actress’s size…

Then Reed pulls out the most cliché excuse for making an inappropriate comment in the book, saying, “I have too many friends who’ve died [from obesity-related issues],” and “I object to using health issues like obesity as comedy talking points.” Do we really have to hear one more person use “Some of my best friends are… [fill in the blank]” as an excuse for saying offensive things? If Reed is so concerned about obesity issues, using words like “hippo” isn’t going to make any kind of social progress. Reed then mistakenly calls McCarthy “Melissa Manchester.” Nothing like getting the person’s name wrong when you’re semi-apologizing to them.

I haven’t seen Identity Thief, because it has received terrible reviews, including from our own reviewer at Crushable. However, I do object to the film’s use of McCarthy as fodder for fat jokes. One of Reed’s main points, made impossible to take seriously because of the ridiculous choices he made in saying them, is that McCarthy has been made into a big stereotypical joke at the expense of her body. I can’t say I disagree with him, but attacking her for it in such classless terms isn’t going to help matters. Rex says in his review:

“Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) is a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success.”

Actually, he’s wrong about a few things here. A quick look at Melissa McCarthy’s IMDb page shows that her career actually hasn’t been that short. She’s been acting since 1997. And she hasn’t devoted her career to being “obese and obnoxious.” I was first introduced to her as Sookie on Gilmore Girls, a lovable character whose size was never an issue, let alone a joke. McCarthy also had a likable role on the short-lived series Samantha Who? That’s not even mentioning her Emmy-winning role on the sitcom Mike & Molly. It was Bridesmaids that introduced her to a wider audience, and unfortunately that was the role that drew praise from viewers and the Academy. It seems like I’m in the minority, but I didn’t enjoy Bridesmaids as much as I would have liked, mostly due to McCarthy’s role. I wish she hadn’t received an Oscar nomination, because it has pigeonholed her as an unattractive laughing stock movie character, and McCarthy is capable of so much more than that. She seems to be trying to play into people’s love for that character type by taking roles in Identity Thief and the upcoming comedy The Heat.

But playing into the fat jokes and incorrectly generalizing McCarthy’s acting abilities, as Reed has done, does absolutely nothing to encourage a different view of women’s size in pop culture.

(Image: Collider)

You can reach this post's author, Jill O’Rourke, on twitter.
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    • Moomur

      ummmm has he looked in the mirror lately????

    • Clock Time

      He has a small penis, and is really upset about it!! So he has to call someone fat!!!

    • Lighten Up

      Put it on the table the Troll is “fat”. Fat Ugly. Obese. You wouldn’t want this woman breathing next to you in bed. When is America going to wake up and cut the “FAT”. It is like walking behind tractor trailers two a breast and watching a couple of bulldogs fighting in a bag. Hurt your feelings? Duhhhhhhh and?…….. Good on Reed.

      • Michael Prymula

        Wow, you’re a brain-dead piece of shit! i bet you’re a REAL hit with ladies yourself LOL

      • Henrietta

        What exactly is the sentence “…like walking behind tractor trailers two a breast…” supposed to mean or say? It makes absolutely no sense. Go figure, hateful AND grammatically challeneged. Also, I highly doubt that his review bothered Melissa McCarthy much because he’s most likely not the first person to point out her weight and say harsh things. Generally people are aware of their flaws.

      • Fab woman

        Are you for real??? Lord I hope you are a gorgeous, if brain dead hunk, cuz, baby, you don’t have ANYTHING to offer any woman!!!!! You insensitive dolt!!

    • Kelly

      Rex Reed, you should be ashamed of yourself calling Melissa or anybody names. You are just plain rude, obnoxious and an ugly human being. You should look at yourself in the mirror before you judge!

    • cannonball101

      Her character on Samantha Who? was great! I loved that show while it was on, and I for some reason totally didn’t put remember that it was Melissa McCarthy in that role! She was hilarious and did such an amazing job with that part.

    • TorontoGal

      REX REED you have got to be kidding??? So let’s get it straight …. YOU ARE SAYING that you BELITTLED, CALLED SOMEONE NAMES and were completely IGNORANT because you are trying to HELP HER???? Lets just say this … YOUR”E ATTITUDE is the very reason fat people have such a hard time losing weight … because BULLEYING … HELLO is not an effective weight loss method!!! The only reason you said what you did had nothing to do with “caring” … it had only to do with your attitude of superiority!!! Get REAL !!!

    • jmr

      Not to mention, his excuse about being concerned about her health is extra-ignorant because the fact that she is overweight does not mean she is unhealty. In 2013, do we REALLY have to still explain to people that fat does not mean unhealthy or unfit? I know a lot of heavy people that work out like crazy and are far, far more fit than I am – and they are still fat. That’s just how it is sometimes. Obesity often causes health problems, true, but it is not a given that someone is unhealty just because they are fat.

    • thin

      Is this not bullying ????????????????????????????

    • Mary Nielsen-Newhall

      just because the leading lady in this movie isn’t some skinny bimbo does not mean this guy should make fun of her weight. what an ass, sorry to say

    • becky

      She is beautiful no matter what her size. She is funny she makes people smile, she is what most people can only dream of being.

    • Dude

      Who cares about her weight, look at her beautiful eyes. Whatever, she looks good!

    • Pualani

      Well well Rex Reed who’d have thought an old fag hag like you would still have an opinion. We thought you were dead! You are a used up old queen and when you die, which should be real soon, hell is saving a seat for you with “sit his old wrinkled ass right here”. Too bad you cannot see past your own insecurities to write a useful review instead of a hateful one because someone else is playing opposite yummy Jason Bateman like you wish you were. Please go play with yourself somewhere else.

    • J.J.

      Sorry but my hubby and I saw this movie Friday night when it came out and we laughed almost the entire time. Melissa and Jason are fantastic together. she is awesome. did he not like cause she’s a big girl . how sad for you mister. guess you’re not the great rater you think you are. the movie was so well done by all who played in it especially Melissa Jason and the fellow from the tv show (plays gay dad)

    • angela166

      Melissa is beautiful and oh so funny, just love to watch mike and molly. I also can’t wait to see identity thief. Who says beauty has to be stick thin? Rex I have never seen you or a pic of you but you must be a tight collared white man. Seems that only black men are real men who love a woman no matter what her size.

    • LaVerne

      You know.. sometimes I wish Rex would think before he speaks regarding other people. My mother taught me if you cant say anything nice.. dont say anything at all..And in Rex case.. He blew it Not once but twice.. Stop being inconsiderate to other.

    • Fab woman

      I happen to be a Rubenesque woman. I am charming, beautiful, bright, intelligent, caring, compassionate, etc…. I also happen to look unbelievably beautiful and can turn heads at any time. So take your narrow minded, unbelievably cruel attitude and shove it up where your head is!!!!

    • EDS

      Rex Reed should be tortured as payback for all the torture he’s bestowed on American culture for the past 437 years…

    • Pac10champs

      I wonder what the reaction would be if she called him a stupid faggot or something similar.

    • Pingback: If We’re So Tolerant, Then Why Do We Still Make Fun Of Fat People & Think It’s Ok?()

    • Will

      I came to this article totally expecting to maintain a certain level of maturity, but im sorry, the combination of the phrases “female hippo” and “tractor-sized” are making me laugh so hard its impossible.

      Let be completely honest here. Melissa McCarthy is a comedic actress. Being fat is funny. Being fat and falling down a lot is even funnier. Chris Farley did it constantly and we loved him for it. He also died in part due to it. But it seems to be working for Melissa McCarthy. She literally would not be famous without it. Shes making MILLIONS of dollars because of it. No one who makes millions of dollars by being fat is being “fat shamed”.