Critics aren't loving Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy's new film, "Identity Thief" -- it has a 25 percent "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes -- but one film reviewer is facing controversy for his particularly personal assessment of McCarthy's performance.
The New York Observer's Rex Reed hated the film overall, calling it "trashy" and "stupefying" junk, but he also described McCarthy as "cacophonous," "tractor-sized" and a "female hippo."
McCarthy is a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success," wrote Reed. "Poor Jason Bateman. How did an actor so charming, talented, attractive and versatile get stuck in so much dreck?"
Commenters quickly came to McCarthy's defense, calling Reed "smug," "irrelevant" and "pathetic."
Many readers criticized Reed for perpetuating a double standard that accepts funny, overweight men in comedic roles but not women.
Wrote one commenter:
Look, from what I can tell, you're calling it like you see it- yes, Melissa McCarthy is overweight and plays obnoxious characters. However, I'd like you to look at her male counterparts and ask yourself which of them has ever brought you to such hostility before. Jonah Hill, Seth Rogan, Jason Sudeikis- the list of overweight and unattractive men who are cast in wildly popular comedic roles goes on. This is because as a culture, we can tolerate an ugly man as long as he's funny, but a woman has to be both attractive and talented (in that order) to be deemed worthy of a leading role. Check yourself, Mr. Reed- you're part of the problem.
I'd be interested to know if Mr. Reed has referred to John Goodman as a "hippo" or "tractor sized" in his reviews of that male actor's movies?
Rex Reed, 74, writes The New York Observer's column for "On the Town with Rex Reed." He has previously been criticized for his 2005 review of South Korea's "Old Boy." "What else can you expect from a nation weaned on kimchi?" he wrote.
McCarthy, 42, was open about her weight in a November issue of Good Housekeeping.
"Sometimes I wish I were just magically a size 6 and I never had to give it a single thought," she said. "But I am weirdly healthy, so I don't beat myself up about it -- it wouldn't help, and I don't want to pass that on to my girls."