You know what was the most interesting thing about this weekend? The controversy regarding Rex Reed insulting Melissa McCarthy for being a morbidly obese woman and being in a patently unfunny film, that’s what. You can read his original review of course and the big thing was that he kind of lost it. Reed’s an old dude and a bit cranky, I think, because he decided to just let it all hang out and mock Melissa McCarthy’s girth.
And I’m not immune to that charge, as last week I called McCarthy the “fat Bridesmaid” in passing in my weekend film preview. Quick jokes are often the best ones. I don’t feel the urge to apologize and I don’t think Rex Reed should apologize either. Why? Because of one thing no one ever called out the trailer for: it’s direct use of McCarthy’s looks and weight as poor punch-lines to begin with. I would use the phrase “in for a penny, in for a pound” but people would think it’s just another fat joke as opposed to an aphorism about getting in too deep.
So instead I’ll say when you make a film’s entire appeal about a fat, obnoxious woman being annoying one shouldn’t be all that surprised when it’s called to the carpet. Watch the trailer and then I’ll elaborate further.
When a film-maker is willing to dress up someone like McCarthy to look like some sort of clown who works trailer parks it gives you a license to get in one the joke. The entire film is based off of her doing “wacky” things that emphasize her weight as opposed to anything she’s actually saying or doing. It’s hard to not notice her because it’s hard to not see someone who looks like her clothes were made from a ‘70s circus tent being loud and obnoxious. Jason Bateman refers to her as a Hobbit, of course, and the entire film revolves around her being this freakish ogre who has a sad back story. Everyone behind this film essentially thought that dressing up an overweight woman to look like a freak, have her act like one and then casually insert Jason Bateman as the straight man to her antics would make it all ok.
You can’t market a film like that without some backlash.
Travis summed it up best, of course, right here, if you’re looking for a formal review. My thoughts would be more like “The entire film is basically one big Melissa McCarthy is fat, annoying and doesn’t know how to dress herself joke that isn’t funny. In fact it’s kind of insulting as a moviegoer.”
The problem becomes when you make a film, and in turn dedicate a good chunk of its marketing to, about how “funny” it is to see Melissa McCarthy dressed up like one of those Troll dolls on an acid trip then you should expect guys like Reed to unload the comments about her weight, etc. When a film like Identity Thief stoops to this level it becomes something to discuss. Unfortunately, Reed handled it in the worst possible way but there’s something to be said about discussing it.
“Melissa McCarthy is a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success,” he wrote and there’s a lot to be mined out of it. He’s not right in calling her a hippo, et al, but the fact that her entire shtick in the film is “I’m really fat and really annoying” is a valid concern. If Kevin James let himself get to Paul Blart level territory again and become an antagonist in a similar film it’d be a valid concern, too.
Comedy just focusing on someone’s weight and dress is as a lazy as a fart joke, regardless of gender.
This Week’s DVD – Flash Gordon
I’ll be honest; Flash Gordon is one of the worst films ever made of a major character. But let’s also be honest: it was the ‘80s and this was as good as it was going to get. And there was a point when the awfulness of ‘70s sci-fi met the cheesiness of the ‘80s attempts at transforming iconic figures of the pulp serial era into motion pictures. None were finer, for lack of a better word, than the Sam Jones headlined adaptation.
Jones is Flash Gordon, quarterback of the New York Jets, and he and ‘80s hot level travel journalist Dale Arden (Melody Anderson) get kidnapped by a crazy doctor (Chaim Topol) to the planet Mongo. The ruthless Ming (Max Von Sydow) rules all and it’s up to Flash to save every one of us. Why? Because the song says so, damn it, and if Queen says so then it must be true. Queen would never lie: not about the Quarterback of the Jets or about girls with fat bottoms. It’s Queen, for the love of Pete.
This is the peak of cheesy film-making. Back then it was the state of the times but watching it now, on the Blu-Ray, you can tell just how cheaply it was made. What a glorious format to expose this entire era, I have to say. Flash Gordon is such a bad film but it’s just so poignantly enjoyable for the same reasons. Plus it also has the peak hotness of Ornella Muti, too, and Ming’s daughter might be her greatest role ever.
Recommended … but very slightly. It’s a worthwhile purchase but not for anything of note, money wise.
And, as always …. DEATH TO MING!
What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club
Beautiful Creatures – A teenager is waiting to be chosen by good or bad witches and such.
Skip it – This might be the first film featuring character actors completely mailing it in en masse for a big check en masse of the year.
Escape from Planet Earth – Aliens land on Earth and have to escape or something. It’s animated.
Skip it – Worst trailer of 2013, so far, and animated films rarely exceed the expectations their trailers provide.
Safe Haven – The blonde from Rock of Ages and Josh Duhamel have a ridiculous love story. And probably one of them gets cancer.
Skip it – If a woman tells you she loves Nicholas Sparks films and novels, it’s a sign she’s probably not the type to bring home to mom.
A Good Day to Die Hard – John McClane is BACK and blowing shit up in Russia.
See it – A proper Valentine’s Day film if there ever was.
Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .