Let me just start by saying that I absolutely love what I do. Don’t ask me how it happened, but all of a sudden my brain kicked into cinema lover mode one day. Whatever cranial lobe contains our writing capacity started going into overdrive, and my fingers began pecking at a keyboard with a driven fury I’d never experienced while writing papers for any level of education. Seriously, ask any of my high school English professors and they’d laugh themselves home at the thought of me writing in every spare moment I’m granted. My choice to pursue film journalism/website reporting/cinema critiquing (whatever you want to call it) is fueled by passion, motivation, heart, and desire. It’s for this reason that I can’t stand seeing someone take advantage of a position that lets your opinion be heard by the masses, sullying the name of an entire profession just because of their own personal agenda.
The instance I’m referring to is none other than Rex Reed’s 500 word “review” of the Jason Bateman/Melissa McCarthy comedy Identity Thief, in which he utilizes his authority as a film critic to offer little commentary on the film itself, and instead unjustly bash Melissa McCarthy’s physical appearance by calling her “tractor-sized” and a “hippo.” He goes on to proclaim “Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) is a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success.” But don’t worry, Reed made it better by clearing up the comments in his “review” by clarifying the following on WOR 710:
“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.”
Have no fear, though. With The Heat (which I loved) recently released, Mr. Reed made sure we all remembered how much of a, well, hold on, let’s get all the data out before I say anything I’m going to regret:
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.
This is all coming from a film critic who has the special talent of writing reviews that sound nothing like the movie he’s reviewing, most recently highlighted by his Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters review. Gang rape? Pedophilia? Rival Witch Hunters? Flesh eating dogs? Sorry Rex, you sure you weren’t describing that late-night Cinemax film you were “watching?” None of those things ever appeared in the version I watched, meaning either A) You didn’t care enough to even pay attention to the film itself or B) You didn’t even watch the damn film. You talk about someone else exploiting their profession, but, um, isn’t that a little bit of the pot calling the kettle black?
Don’t think I’m riding some moral high horse though. When a film deserves a thrashing, there’s nothing more fun than giving it a proper scathe. A bad movie is a bad movie, and I don’t fault Rex Reed for giving Identity Thief a negative review by any means. But to take cheap shots at the actors themselves is where a line has to be drawn. Attack the film, attack the writing, attack the characters, attack the comedy – but they’re all part of a production. As a reviewer, there’s absolutely no reason to insult the real person playing the character, and insults should be directed at the movie as a whole.
I didn’t like World War Z so much myself, but did I sit there tearing Brad Pitt apart for any personal reasons? No, it’s nothing personal to Mr. Pitt, Mr. Forster, or Mr. Lindelof – but I just didn’t like World War Z. All my negativity was directed towards the film itself. I never get these crotchety reviewers who say such irate things like “I wish [Insert Director Here] was never born so this cinematic atrocity would have never been made.” Everyone involved in a film’s production are actual people, and I find it inexcusable to use our voice as film critics to insert personal notes that attack talent outside of the film you’re talking about.