New York Observer film critic Rex Reed took such umbrage with the February release Identity Thief, that he went on a vicious attack of not only the movie itself, but of the physical appearance of star Melissa McCarthy. In his review of the comedy, which also co-starred Jason Bateman, he referred to the actress as "cacophonous, tractor-sized Melissa McCarthy."
Later in the review, Reed calls McCarthy a "female hippo". And in his final jab he says, "Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) is a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success." Jeez. What did McCarthy ever do to this guy except try to entertain? If she's not his cup of tea, fine, but such nasty comments are uncalled for. However, the last line of his review gives some more insight into this guy's taste, he says "Identity Thief is so bad it’s hard to believe it wasn’t directed by Judd Apatow or the Farrelly Brothers." Seems like Reed has one hell of a sense of humor.
In an interview with The New York Times, McCarthy responded to Reed's insulting tirade saying, "I felt really bad for someone who is swimming in so much hate. I just thought, that’s someone who’s in a really bad spot, and I am in such a happy spot. I laugh my head off every day with my husband and my kids who are mooning me and singing me songs.” Very classy McCarthy! In addition to not giving Reed the time of day to even mention him by name, she uses the opportunity to comment on the nature of the female body image in our culture. She says, "As a mother raising two young daughters in 'a strange epidemic of body image and body dysmorphia,' [articles like that] just add to all those younger girls, that are not in a place in their life where they can say, ‘That doesn’t reflect on me.’”
Even after being bombarded with death threats and e-mails wishing he'd get cancer, Reed stood by his statements. During a February radio apperance, he said, "I object to using health issues like obesity as comedy talking points; That’s what this girl does! This Melissa Manchester…” Who's Melissa Manchester? He wasn't trying to be funny there. He actually forget her name.
Now, in a recent interview with US Weekly, Reed reiterates his stance and will not back down. He says, "I can only repeat what I have said before -- that I do not have, nor have I ever had, anything personal against people who suffer from obesity. What I object to is the disgusting attempt to pretend obesity is funny. It is not remotely humorous, and every obese comedian who ever made jokes about the disease are now dead from strokes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes." He concluded with, "As a critic whose opinions are constitutionally protected by law, I stand by all of my original remarks about Melissa McCarthy's obesity, which I consider about as amusing as cancer, and apologize for nothing." At least he now knows McCarthy's name; but to stand on such a high-horse about being so sensitive to the health issues involved with obesity still doesn't make up for the fact that he used the terms 'female hippo' and 'tractor-sized' to make his point.
McCarthy's new film The Heat, in which her and Sandra Bullock play buddy-cops is currently in theaters. Although Reed didn't bother to review the movie, Bridesmaids and The Heat director Paul Feig tweeted this in defense of his leading lady, "For his catty and school bully name-calling of the supremely talented Melissa McCarthy, I cordially invite Mr. Rex Reed to go f--k himself." Less classy than McCarthy's response, yet way more satisfying.