Why Does Hollywood Keep Disrespecting Melissa McCarthy?
April 16, 2016 4:29 PM   Subscribe

This is not just a remarkable run; it is literally a singular one. No other woman or man unaided by a franchise in the last five years has emerged from nowhere to become such a completely dependable movie star, appearing in one successful film after another and regularly creating product that turns a profit, while maintaining a successful foothold in TV as well.
posted by Shmuel510 (89 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
Because Hollywood can't bear to see a fat woman succeed.
posted by zeee at 4:37 PM on April 16, 2016 [129 favorites]


Lets see... larger than most leading female stars, older (45), female, a success in her own right... all of these means that it is definitely time for mainstream media to rip into her.
posted by greenhornet at 4:44 PM on April 16, 2016 [16 favorites]


Because many of those movies weren't very good despite her being an actress and comedian capable of amazing stuff even in rote genre comedy (see: The Heat, which was hilarious).

It's like asking why Hollywood doesn't respect Kevin Hart more, even though his movies make money consistently. Or hell, the article seems to imply that Hollywood respects Nick Cage, instead of passing around "HOW DOES IT BURN?!" gifs.

Critics don't represent the tastes of mass-market audiences, for good and ill, and so there's frequently a lack of respect for entertainers who seem to prize quantity over quality — Samuel Jackson has been open about wanting to always be working, too, but "Why doesn't anyone respect Snakes on a Plane?" answers itself.
posted by klangklangston at 4:46 PM on April 16, 2016 [49 favorites]


Mainstream press wants backlash against anyone who's enjoying a fairly cheery spell of support. They're dying inside that nothing sticks to Taylor Swift or Jennifer Lawrence so far. McCarthy not matching the standard of beauty and still doing well has to be infuriating.
posted by taterpie at 4:47 PM on April 16, 2016 [8 favorites]


I find it interesting that Netflix has nothing with her in it newer than 2009's Pretty Ugly People. Nor does Amazon, as far as I can tell. Is that streaming business model totally crashing, for them to be missing literally anything put out by someone who's getting this much attention, or is it just her?
posted by Sequence at 4:59 PM on April 16, 2016


Instead, McCarthy stuck with it uncomplainingly for five more seasons and 103 more episodes

She may have had contractual requirements to get to that 100 episode mark which is needed for syndication. It may also have included a percentage of "reruns" which is what made Sienfield incredibly rich.
posted by sammyo at 5:00 PM on April 16, 2016 [8 favorites]


Is that streaming business model totally crashing

Seems like it. Which is why folks think the streaming folks are doing so much original productions.
posted by sammyo at 5:02 PM on April 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Because many of those movies weren't very good despite her being an actress and comedian capable of amazing stuff even in rote genre comedy (see: The Heat, which was hilarious).
? By "disrespecting," the author means downplaying her financial success. Do they usually do that with people who make not-great, profitable movies?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:02 PM on April 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


She's been a working actress for decades. She was a main character in Gilmore Girls at the turn of the century. The fact that she wasn't asked to return to play Sookie is one of the main reasons I've been meh about the reunion. Well that and the fact that the writer is the husband of the creator, and all of his episodes were the ones that were terrible and made the lead characters be crazy not in a good way in the original series.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 5:04 PM on April 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


I could swear that I read recently that they'd cleared up whatever the problem was and she was going to be in the Gilmore Girls reunion, although I think it might just be a cameo.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:06 PM on April 16, 2016 [7 favorites]


"The fact that she wasn't asked to return to play Sookie is one of the main reasons I've been meh about the reunion."

She is, apparently, now going to do a cameo for the reunion!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:07 PM on April 16, 2016 [6 favorites]


I have titles turned off, for an old-school Metafilter experience. I knew right from the description who they were talking about in this post without needing to see the title.

McCarthy is consistently entertaining to watch and makes excellent career choices. No, seriously - she's good at comedic romps that depend on character mismatches with occasional flashes of depth. So she makes comedic romps that depend on character mismatches with occasional flashes of depth, and only strays when she's sure she can bring something essential to the role and that the film itself is something worth doing (St. Vincent, and now Ghostbusters).

If Ghostbusters is a monster hit, she will have as much a hand in it as the franchise itself.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:10 PM on April 16, 2016 [8 favorites]


Comic actors have always gotten short shrift compared to 'serious' thespians.

/loves Melissa, she looks a lot like my wife
posted by jonmc at 5:15 PM on April 16, 2016 [6 favorites]


I find it interesting that Netflix has nothing with her in it newer than 2009's Pretty Ugly People. Nor does Amazon, as far as I can tell. Is that streaming business model totally crashing, for them to be missing literally anything put out by someone who's getting this much attention, or is it just her?

She makes bank, so the studios reserve her stuff for PPV and Cable. Netflix is being slowly choked out of the business, or, well, they're trying. Netflix then hits back with stuff like Bojack Horseman and House of Cards. At one point or other, they will decide they simply want her, and pay her to make a movie just for them. It will make them more money than that Adam Sandler POS, and will be a perfect popcorn comedic romp.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:15 PM on April 16, 2016 [6 favorites]


Since Bridesmaids, McCarthy has starred in five studio comedies — Identity Thief, The Heat, Tammy, Spy

Those are pretty damn awful movies. She's turning into Adam Sandler.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:20 PM on April 16, 2016 [11 favorites]


Although there are many reasons to love Melissa McCarthy, one of my favourite is that I like to imagine her at McCarthy family reunions, pushing her cousin Jenny's face down into the guacamole and holding it there.
posted by orange swan at 5:22 PM on April 16, 2016 [44 favorites]


I love how Ben Falcone always seems to pop up in her movies (sometimes behind the camera, even).
posted by hwestiii at 5:23 PM on April 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


Hollywood best shows respects for what they understand by copying it. Producers who 'get' her humor have profited handsomely.
posted by Homer42 at 5:24 PM on April 16, 2016


Spy is the only of these movies I've seen, but it was great.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:28 PM on April 16, 2016 [19 favorites]


Spy is a damn AWESOME movie. Isn't it amazing how subject it all is.

I loved Spy, but I didn't like Tammy. I'm not married to her success but when she does something I like I'm thrilled, because frankly, I'm not thin and I'm not 23 so it's nice to see someone I recognize representing.
posted by taterpie at 5:30 PM on April 16, 2016 [10 favorites]


Since Bridesmaids, McCarthy has starred in five studio comedies — Identity Thief, The Heat, Tammy, Spy
Those are pretty damn awful movies. She's turning into Adam Sandler.
Awww, c'mon. Rotten Tomatoes rates them 20% (aud: 53%), 65% (aud: 71%), 23% (aud: 37%), 94% (aud: 79%), respectively. Hardly Sandler territory.
posted by ArmandoAkimbo at 5:36 PM on April 16, 2016 [11 favorites]


Those are pretty damn awful movies. She's turning into Adam Sandler.

Well, that's just it. She followed up a crude, blue-collar, physical comedy breakout role (shitting in a sink and molesting an air marshal) with This Is 40, Identify Thief, Hangover 3 and The Heat in a year and a half -- a veritable plethora of throat-punching, drinking, fucking, and going for the modern record for Most Usage Of The Word 'Fuck' In A Film That Is Not Scarface. Successful? Yes. Typecasting? Yes.

As bad as many of Sandler's movies have been, he's shown that he's capable of better. McCarthy is certainly capable of better, and has been trying to stretch her boundaries a bit in more recent fare. But that's a long stretch of public perception to overcome.
posted by delfin at 5:44 PM on April 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


For comparison, the average Sandler joint gets a 36%.
posted by mbrubeck at 5:45 PM on April 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Finally I get to post my oscars observations - when she was up for best supporting actress for Bridesmaids, they showed a clip of her character just as the nominee list was being read out (as is customary). Well the clip they picked was the one of her shitting in the sink. When they cut to her in her chair, she looked a little uncomfortable. Ooooh it made me want to punch a bitch. Who picked that clip? Why not the clip of her on the couch talking to Kristen Wiig? That was her best moment. I knew instinctively that they picked the most unflattering clip to play, just to humiliate her, just to keep the fat girl down and in her place. Hollywood is full of cattiness like that. Grrr it still makes me angry.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 5:48 PM on April 16, 2016 [51 favorites]


pushing her cousin Jenny's face down into the guacamole and holding it there

Jesus, why would you do that to guac?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:50 PM on April 16, 2016 [10 favorites]


Hollywood likes Reese Witherspoon, Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Julia Roberts, Jodie Foster and not Melissa McCarthy. What could the difference possibly be? Sure, it's because the former group have been around longer and wants it more. That's definitely the most salient and obvious difference.
posted by jeather at 5:51 PM on April 16, 2016 [11 favorites]


Since Bridesmaids, McCarthy has starred in five studio comedies — Identity Thief, The Heat, Tammy, Spy
Those are pretty damn awful movies. She's turning into Adam Sandler.


Have you seen Spy??? Hil-AR-ious

Edit: The Heat was wonderful too
posted by St. Peepsburg at 5:51 PM on April 16, 2016 [18 favorites]


I definitely think it's weird how eager some of the media coverage is to downplay Melissa McCarthy's obvious box office success. I'm not talking about criticizing her movies' artistic merit, I mean the dire warnings about box office wobbliness etc. when there is no evidence of it, and then her movie goes on to absolutely clean up.

And I thought Spy was fabulous and not in remotely the same league as a stupid Adam Sandler movie. It was smart, funny, feminist and passed the Bechdel Test. ALL the major roles were played by women. It was focused on a very intelligent, capable woman coming into her own and realizing her potential. I loved MMc's character's friendship with Miranda Hart's character. The movie's humour was not mean spirited, which I appreciated, and I thought it was very entertaining. I didn't think The Boss was quite as good, but I still thought it was funny and not insulting to my intelligence or my feminism, and I also liked how it, too, focused so much on women's capability and potential, and their friendships with each other.

(Slight tangent: Identity Thief, The Heat, and Spy are all available on Netflix Canada; I'm really surprised they're not on US Netflix. We tend to have fewer mainstream Hollywood movies to choose from.)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:54 PM on April 16, 2016 [12 favorites]


For what they were (light comedies), The Heat and Spy were really good. They knew what kind of movies they were and committed to making the best dumb comedies of their genre without insulting their audience.

The Boss doesn't seem like something I'd enjoy, but the trailer and advertisements for Tammy made me uncomfortable. It looked like Tammy was developmentally disabled and a lot of the jokes were about that. Is this the case?
posted by pxe2000 at 5:55 PM on April 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Heat and Spy were both really funny. The Heat is just a buddy cop movie, only the buddies are women and nobody really talks about that fact. Spy really plays with the tropes of spy movies and stereotypes about fat women in a way that really works.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:56 PM on April 16, 2016 [15 favorites]


They didn't give much respect to Whoopi, either, until she did The Color Purple.

So it's partly the conflation of the standard misogyny. But it's also the bias against comedic performances.

Right now, the studios don't want to make comedies. The number of comedies coming out of Hollywood is way down.... romantic comedies, children's comedies, and mild all ages comedies (of the Ealing comedies variety) are extinct. Hollywood is about the cinematic universes and franchises nowadays... and McCarthy doesn't particularly support that business model.

So it's also about the myopia of modern spread-sheets driven Hollywood. If it doesn't play in Shanghai, they don't want to make it. Hence why Adam Sandler is scrounging on Netflix.
posted by LeRoienJaune at 6:00 PM on April 16, 2016 [6 favorites]


I haven't seen The Heat, but now I think I should watch it! Sometimes I want to see a light comedy, but so many of them make me feel bad as a woman because there's so much casual sexism. I like watching MMc movies because so far none of them I've seen have done that.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:01 PM on April 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


I didn't see Identity Thief or Tammy; I don't intend to see The Boss. But I will see Ghostbusters, and I really liked both Spy and The Heat. Comedy isn't easy, and she's good at it.
posted by jeather at 6:02 PM on April 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


The entertainment business expands much further than "Hollywood". I suspect she'll continue working and earning a very decent living within the industry for many years to come. I'm having a hard time worrying about her not getting respect.
posted by davebush at 6:02 PM on April 16, 2016


The Heat is pretty, highly recommended!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:08 PM on April 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


As bad as many of Sandler's movies have been, he's shown that he's capable of better.

For those of us who remember Sandler's semi-debut on MTV's Remote Control back in the day (along with Colin Quinn, of all people), this is funny. That was in 1988, btw, and his first ambitious movie was, I think, 2002's Punch-Drunk Love. Somehow the critics got over those fourteen years.
posted by praemunire at 6:10 PM on April 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


That was in 1988, btw, and his first ambitious movie was, I think, 2002's Punch-Drunk Love.

His first and only ambitious movie.
posted by blucevalo at 6:17 PM on April 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


Er, the Heat is pretty GOOD.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:18 PM on April 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Tina Fey told a now-famous story about an early-2000s incident in the SNL writer’s room when the then-new Amy Poehler was trying out a vulgar bit and Jimmy Fallon said, “Stop that! It’s not cute, I don’t like it!” Poehler turned to him — “black in the eyes for a second" — and said, “I don’t fucking care if you like it.” Fey describes the moment as a “cosmic shift … she wasn’t there to play wives and girlfriends … She was there to do what she wanted to do.”

I wish that moment was on a tape loop that I could watch forever.
posted by chococat at 6:25 PM on April 16, 2016 [58 favorites]


I love how Ben Falcone always seems to pop up in her movies

You do know he is her husband, right? And he wrote and directed "The Boss" and "Tammy"?
posted by Clustercuss at 6:32 PM on April 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Wedding Singer was Sandler using some highly uncharacteristic restraint, and it worked well. Punch-Drunk Love, Spanglish, Reign Over Me weren't Citizen Kane but they demonstrated that Sandler is at least _capable_ of actual acting in a movie that doesn't involve poop jokes.

Are those a handful of bright spots washed away by a tsunami of owl shit? Yep. But they do exist.
posted by delfin at 6:35 PM on April 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


what does delfin have against owls
posted by roger ackroyd at 6:49 PM on April 16, 2016 [8 favorites]


Clustercuss, yes, I do know he's her husband, and I do know he directed those movies. That's what I was referring to with "behind the camera". They make quite a couple.
posted by hwestiii at 6:52 PM on April 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


But that's a long stretch of public perception to overcome.

OMG can we stop acting like Gilmore Girls wasn't a thing! She was in 153 episodes.
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 6:59 PM on April 16, 2016 [19 favorites]


Today I learned that Gilmore Girls _had_ 153 episodes. (Not disparaging it in any way, but it's completely off my personal radar as I've never watched it.)

Mike and Molly I know McCarthy stars in, but the phrase "CBS sitcom" raises so many red flags that to date I've avoided it as well.
posted by delfin at 7:07 PM on April 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


Are those a handful of bright spots washed away by a tsunami of owl shit? Yep. But they do exist.

Yes, but my point is that somehow McCarthy is supposed to be irretrievably typecast and beyond the reach of critical consideration after a two-year run of vulgar movies (preceded by I-don't-know-how-long of harmless wacky sitcom best friend). Sandler gets a decade-plus of grossness and still gets to be taken seriously, however briefly.
posted by praemunire at 7:22 PM on April 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


My single favorite part about The Heat - her family.

Her brothers are lilly-white Boston character actors everyone recognizes, and her Dad is this darkly-complected, dark-haired North End Boston Italian guy. M-Mac has been rocking a Minnesota accent the whole picture. It's insanely funny, especially if you're from Southern New England.

"Ah yoo a nock???" demands one famous character actor at one point. Sandra Bullock is brilliant, here, BTW.

Then we meet Mullins' estranged mom, played by Jane Curtain, who is a Boston Native. Her accent is so thickly Minnesotan you could cut lutefisk with it.

There are so many layers of awesome to unpack, here...
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:28 PM on April 16, 2016 [14 favorites]


I'm having a hard time worrying about her not getting respect.

Why doesn't she get the same respect as e.g. Jennifer Aniston. And why, for example, does Jennifer Aniston get cast in lead roles and advertising campaigns that McCarthy doesn't?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:03 PM on April 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


"On April 10, after the opening weekend of The Boss, which cost $29 million to make and grossed $23.5 million in its first three days, the New York Times led its weekend-grosses piece with “Melissa McCarthy succeeded at the box office in ‘The Boss,’ but just barely,” adding, “box office wobbliness and reviews complaining of a repetitious shtick have started to hound” her."

Because The Boss literally just barely beat BvS: Dawn of the Murderverse by a several hundred thousand, which was more of a statement about BvS instead of The Boss.

The article seems to be looking for a fight about McCarthy, when it sounds like the Hollywood press is being fickle and just printing stuff to get eyeballs.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:21 PM on April 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Coming in to pile on to The Heat recommendation. It's so good. I think Spy is a better movie overall, but there is something special about The Heat. It's not just a buddy cop movie where the two main characters are women; it's a buddy copy movie where the two main characters aren't constantly called out for being women. They're competent most of the time, and when they aren't, there is no "har har gurls!"

Utterly refreshing.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:24 PM on April 16, 2016 [8 favorites]


You know, I'm a huge MMc fan, but didn't care for Spy, it registered in that same part of my brain as Jim Carrey movies...I don't know what to call it, maybe cringe comedy. I got it as a bday present, so I own the DVD, I'll give it another shot, maybe I was just having a bad day.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 9:56 PM on April 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Spy features Miranda Hart, who is a British comedic genius and my not very secret super crush, and is just wish fulfillment brilliance. It's the film I longed for without realising how much I had wanted it, and knowing it exists makes me so happy.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 10:35 PM on April 16, 2016 [7 favorites]


However I also own the DVD of Hot Chick featuring Rob Schneider that I paid for with my own money so clearly there is something deeply wrong with me.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 10:38 PM on April 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


They didn't give much respect to Whoopi, either, until she did The Color Purple.

That was her second movie, the first being a rather obscure film (the wikipedia article about it is literally 8 lines).

Since then she has been constantly working, see her impressively long filmography. So maybe not the best example.
posted by ojemine at 11:10 PM on April 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


I love Melissa McCarthy and hearing that she's in a movie makes me excited for it.
posted by kafziel at 11:32 PM on April 16, 2016


I want to address a point that the article makes near the end.

"She wants the Louis C.K. deal — a degree of control as long as she can deliver at the right price."

That's fine, but her decision making has been suspect (critically not box office wise). If you want to count Bridesmaids, she has starred in six comedies in the last five years. Bridesmaids, The Heat, and Spy were all directed by Paul Feig and were all well liked by critics (90, 65, 94% on Rotten Tomatoes). Identity Thief was her next big role after her breakout performance in Bridesmaids, she probably had some control over choosing the next project but not as much as you might think following an Oscar nomination. Anyway, it did poorly with critics (20%). The other two, Tammy and The Boss, were written and produced by her and directed by her husband. This is what she wanted to do with the so-called Louis C.K. deal and they were similarly not well liked by critics (23% and 19% respectively).

Now I have not seen Tammy or The Boss, but some critics that I respect were talking about Tammy on a podcast that I was listening to and they described the humor by saying that it leaned really heavily on making fun of her appearance/weight in a very straightforward manner. Tammy didn't have as much dignity as her character in Spy for instance. This is okay, if that's what she wants to do she's earned the right to do it. It may not be my cup of tea but I am looking forward to her putting in another great performance in a movie not directed by Ben Falcone.
posted by crashlanding at 1:17 AM on April 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed Spy, but my god Identity Thief was fucking awful. Awful. Reminded me of a bad eighties movie in the worst way.
posted by smoke at 1:30 AM on April 17, 2016


I loved this article, and it reminded me of what happened to Roseanne when her sitcom was a success.

When the show went to No. 1 in December 1988, ABC sent a chocolate “1” to congratulate me. Guess they figured that would keep the fat lady happy—or maybe they thought I hadn’t heard (along with the world) that male stars with No. 1 shows were given Bentleys and Porsches. So me and George Clooney [who played Roseanne Conner’s boss for the first season] took my chocolate prize outside, where I snapped a picture of him hitting it with a baseball bat. I sent that to ABC.

I mean, I dearly hope no studio head is sending MMc any giant cookies. But would you be that surprised?
posted by Gin and Broadband at 2:48 AM on April 17, 2016 [24 favorites]


For those of you who are so keen to answer the title question with "Because her movies suck!", please

A) RTFA, which is clearly about how the media is talking about the financial aspects of her career and her status as a draw,

and then

B) ask yourself why you're so eager to join in on the attacks,

and then

C) just stop.
posted by Etrigan at 3:18 AM on April 17, 2016 [21 favorites]


Where in the link is an example of Hollywood disrespecting her? Most of the article expands on what was written by 2 sources that review weekend grosses, and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists. They observe Hollywood, they're not a part of it. They're paid to write clickbait.

Hollywood, as in Big Hollywood, wants franchises, tentpoles or at the very least, sequels. Ghostbusters could do that, but none of McCarthy's films seem destined for it. Big Hollywood wants to license the merchandising rights of what appears in their films. Ghostbusters could do that. How much have studios earned from lunch boxes, action figures, t-shirts, costumes, etc. from her existing films? Does such merchandise exist? While Big Hollywood is looking for the next great franchise with a spinoff animated series and action figures, Small Hollywood keeps funding her films. That's respect.

The article asks why Hollywood isn't lining up to work with her. Where is the evidence of projects she's been unable to get green-lit?
posted by Homer42 at 4:26 AM on April 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm also feeling a lot of cognitive dissonance between the comments here and TFA - I agree with people comparing MM's movies to those of Jim Carrey or Adam Sandler or Ben Stiller in their prime, but the thing is, when those movies were huge, the comics were treated like movie stars. No one cared that the movies were critically meh - they were considered sure-thing hitmakers and Sandler and Carrey were clearly considered A-list talent by the industry. McCarthy's movies are getting the same love from audiences and making money, and she's still not being taken seriously as a huge star.

That's an issue worth talking about - and critical acclaim has nothing to do with it.
posted by Mchelly at 4:26 AM on April 17, 2016 [24 favorites]


The article's dead-on about the critical response (the NYT and LAT bits, ugh), but I do think it contradicts itself somewhat at the end with this question:

Why isn’t the industry lining up to work with her, direct her, write better stuff for her, and see if it can make her even more of a success?"

As the article notes, McCarthy *is* getting offers from the industry but she is also making her own choices, and those include regularly making junky movies with her husband - movies that rely on jokes about her weight and appearance more than the quality movies she makes with other people, and which (perhaps relatedly) get shitty word-of-mouth scores that leave some box office observers wondering out loud about how much better she'd be doing if she made smarter choices.

If you look at the Deadline box office report for The Boss, linked as another example of a lack of respect, you see the way the criticisms are couched:

rivals are noticing that the returns and audience/critical reactions for McCarthy’s fare are ebbing. Should studios continue on this course, and throw whatever McCarthy comedy against the wall, they could damage a solid star-driven B.O. machine which pulls in multiples of 3.8 to 4.1.

"Stop damaging a solid star-driven box office machine with shoddy work" is a strange kind of disrespect.

(McCarthy was so good in St. Vincent that I can't help wishing for her to do more like that.)
posted by mediareport at 5:01 AM on April 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Between Bridesmaids and The Boss, that's about five years. Five times she's hit $100m (Bridesmaids tops at $169), and I'd bet The Boss will be the sixth. That's a solid run.

Jim Carrey's breakout was Ace Ventura, and Man on the Moon about five years later. Six times he hit $100m in that period. Except, adjusting for inflation, two of those were above $300m, four were above $200m, and two more pass the $100m mark (including the abysmal failure Cable Guy, which everyone said proved Carrey had lost his star power). He delivered very big hits.

With Ben Stiller, it starts with There's Something About Mary. Five years later, he'd had only one other $100m movie, Meet the Parents. Again adjusting for inflation, that's a $300m movie and a $200m movie. That's a pretty low average hitter, but when he hit it went big.

How about Eddie Murphy? Between 48hrs and Raw, there's two $100m movies, two $200m movies, a $300m movie, and a $500m movie.

McCarthy has been a bankable but unspectacular lead. Maybe akin to Drew Barrymore (post-Wedding Singer return). Drew was less consistent but got less attention than McCarthy does. She actually gets quite a lot of positive press for someone with a solid but unspectacular career so far.

She obviously has a lot of talent. Hell, she was a standout even back in the Gilmore Girls days. But she's chosen to make good movies. Dependable, mostly satisfying, but not great. Maybe Ghostbusters will mark a change for her. I hope so. But she's getting the attention and respect her performance merits.

I have no explanation for Adam Sandler, in any sense of the term. He defies all logic, decency, and common sense.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 5:24 AM on April 17, 2016


(Slight tangent: Identity Thief, The Heat, and Spy are all available on Netflix Canada; I'm really surprised they're not on US Netflix. We tend to have fewer mainstream Hollywood movies to choose from.) posted by hurdy gurdy girl

Netflix USA has them, too, as DVDs.
posted by Carol Anne at 6:22 AM on April 17, 2016


Another data point: the Variety review. Excerpts:

As she demonstrated with her career-high comic showcase in last year’s “Spy,” McCarthy remains one of the funniest actors alive — a truth that frequently rescues, but doesn’t really redeem, this sloppy comedy...

McCarthy, who can toss off an insult like “Suck my d—k, Gigantor!” and give it a vague impression of wit, coaxes forth just about every laugh and stray chuckle that could possibly have been extracted from the material.

Which is, in the end, a testament to McCarthy’s gifts as an actress — her irrepressible flair for physical comedy and her devastating way with a one-liner — rather than to her instincts as a writer, which seem iffy at best.


Again, there's little in this review from a classic Hollywood outlet that can be construed as the kind of "disrespect" the Vulture writer's hot take describes.
posted by mediareport at 6:29 AM on April 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


One of the things I love about The Heat is how, in the initial set-up, it appears as if McCarthy's character is the crazy rogue cop and Bullock is the sane 'by the book' super-cop. But then it becomes clear that McCarthy is actually the more grounded character - that she is crazy like a fox, sexually confident, etc., while Bullock is a train wreck outside of her super-cop persona. And it's another good example of the transformative versus revelatory character arc, where Bullock is transformed and McCarthy is revealed.

Good article.
posted by oh yeah! at 6:29 AM on April 17, 2016 [15 favorites]


They observe Hollywood, they're not a part of it.

Agreed. And I'd have a bit more tolerance for someone conflating studios with journalists paparazzi if he weren't a member of the latter. "Why do we, as members of Hollywood...?" No, fella, you're not that.

she is also making her own choices, and those include regularly making junky movies with her husband

Yeah, she suffers from the same ailment as Tim Burton, who sorely needs Congress to step in and bar him from ever again working with Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter or Danny Elfman. You worked together, it happened, move on. McCarthy is a great talent—The Heat had a decent script, sure, but it succeeded largely on the chemistry between McCarthy and Bullock—and she could do great things, but greatness usually comes from making a variety of choices, not hewing to a chocolate-chip recipe à la Sandler.

Maybe Ghostbusters will mark a change for her.

I hope it's good. I want it to be good. But it looks terrible.
posted by cribcage at 6:31 AM on April 17, 2016


She seems like a nice person but I have never been able to get past the ads or trailers for any of her films. To be fair, most modern comedies leave me pretty cold.
posted by octothorpe at 6:55 AM on April 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


I feel like the ads/trailers for McCarthy films go for the broad/slapstick humor, but that the movies themselves usually have more heart to them. Not sure if that's a strategic Trojan Horse kind of tactic, like the way Disney avoided using princessy titles for the Rapunzel & Snow Queen movies to get the boys in, or just that it's hard to show emotional depth in a trailer. I've only seen Bridesmaids, The Heat, & Spy, but I think I liked all of them in spite of some of the gross-out moments, not because of them.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:21 AM on April 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


I watched Tammy and liked it and was uncomfortable with it at the same time. If it really was a project she chose herself, I have to interpret all the jokes about her appearance and the pathos of her character's shlubbiness as something she wanted to say, and respect it. And frankly, the fact that Susan Sarandon signed on for it (and played a ridiculous role outside her usual range) makes me think hard about what they were trying to do, too. Do we not get to think about women as complex, failing, unlikable characters who manage to work their way out of it and make their own peace with who they are? Maybe this was a comment about women in Hollywood and perfection.

My reaction to MMc is basically "shut up and take my money" at this point, so thanks to everyone for pointing me to The Heat.
posted by gusandrews at 8:26 AM on April 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


The Variety review above fits what I've experienced of McCarthy; she's the saving grace of whatever she's in, and rises to the limits of whatever script she's in. She's fearless when it comes to pratfalls, crudity or looking ridiculous on-screen. And that's great! But even in a movie people are talking up as one of her best (Spy), the trailer does her no favors. "She's a fish out of water with hidden talents, she's fat and that's funny, she falls down a lot, no one takes her seriously" sounds like a long-lost Chris Farley script with more profanity. The trailer for The Boss has her leading a Girl Scout street brawl, whacking a tennis ball into someone's throat, a foldaway bed pratfall sight gag, telling girls that they're future lesbians, making it look like "let's make Troop Beverly Hills a hard PG-13."

I saw The Heat in the theater and liked it, almost entirely due to McCarthy -- I thought Bullock had the most wooden, cue-card-reading, Contractual Obligation performance I've ever seen from her, and I've seen her Razzie-winning performance.
posted by delfin at 8:45 AM on April 17, 2016


On the plus side, being a large person or a physical comedian in Hollywood often equates to one thing -- character actor. The lead's wacky best friend. The comic relief that the svelte blonde plays off of. Say what you will about McCarthy's role choices but she's getting lead roles consistently. Take out the bit part in Hangover III and everything she's done since 2013 has been either lead, female lead or co-lead, and these aren't straight-to-video movies; they're getting TV spots, they're getting publicity, they're getting movie studio muscle behind them. It's a funny way to say "you're not REALLY a star."
posted by delfin at 10:34 AM on April 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


melissa mccarthy (and ben falcone!) being interviewed by kai ryssdal on marketplace a week and half ago :P
posted by kliuless at 11:23 AM on April 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


I slept on Spy, so it sounds like it's time to look for it.
posted by klangklangston at 12:52 PM on April 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


I LOVED Spy, though I am also a shut-up-and-take-my money person when it comes to Melissa McCarthy (yes, even with Tammy, which was not a great movie, but I would happily watch her read a phone book, so I didn't care). Melissa McCarthy/Rose Byrne/Miranda Hart are like a triple threat against which I am utterly helpless. Jason Statham displaying his comedy chops is just icing on the cake. AND it passes the Bechdel Test!

Pop Culture Happy Hour did a good podcast around the time it was released, which discussed Melissa McC as Paul Feig's muse and how in Spy we kept waiting for fat jokes to come and they never do. Which is refereshing and made me realize how much I'm primed to expect that kind of thing and that it can almost seem a little jarring when there's an easy opportunity for it that is not taken - that's how accustomed to it I've become when watching comedies. And I love that we're getting standout examples of comedies that show you don't need to rely on cheap shots about a woman's weight/looks to get laughs. Because it starts to make the movies that do do it (which is still the majority of them) look kind of shitty and mean. We still have such a long way to go, but I really, really welcome this kind of thing.
posted by triggerfinger at 4:12 PM on April 17, 2016 [6 favorites]


"The Vulture writer's hot take"?

For what it's worth, Mark Harris is one of the best culture writers we have, and while I'm still trying to figure out what "hot take" means besides "piece of writing I don't agree with," this seems like a piece that some thought went into to me.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 5:56 PM on April 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


MetaFilter: a veritable plethora of throat-punching, drinking, fucking, and going for the modern record for Most Usage Of The Word 'Fuck.'
posted by kirkaracha at 7:14 PM on April 17, 2016


Spy is available for free on Xfinity On Demand. Sounds like I need to check it out!

also, Melissa McCarthy grew up in the next town over from where I grew up.
posted by SisterHavana at 7:52 PM on April 17, 2016


Linda_Holmes, what I meant by "hot take" is "an oversimplified perspective that sounds deep or edgily contrary at first glance but turns out to be muddled and not-so-deep on closer reading." I thought that was close to the generally understood meaning.

After noting where he made good points, I pointed out where Harris contradicted himself: he attacks the Alliance of Women Film Journalists by suggesting they don't give McCarthy agency for making her own choices, but then discounts her choices by asking "Why isn’t the industry lining up to...write better stuff for her?" Um, because it is, except when she's co-writing her own scripts for movies she makes with her husband that get bad reviews and word-of-mouth scores. And his "Hollywood disrespects McCarthy" is so oversimplified it's actively misleading - the third of her collaborations with her husband has already been announced because Hollywood studios understand *very clearly* her films make money, no matter how bad they are. Which is exactly what led to the Deadline article which worries those studios are going to damage "a solid star-driven box office machine" with years of shoddy product. Again: that's a very weird kind of "disrespect."

I'd love to hear how you disagree with any of that.

So I got Spy from the Redbox with my broccoli last night and thought it was really good - silly and a bit slyly subversive (not enough for my taste but it's aimed squarely at the mainstream so ok) with a wonderful cumulative effect from the many well-drawn women as main and supporting characters. She's a fantastic actress, so clearly capable of brilliant work (again, see her turn as a single mom in the Bill Murray flick St. Vincent), and I'd love to see her in more films that really show that off.
posted by mediareport at 5:31 AM on April 18, 2016


The thing about Spy is that pretty much the entire supporting cast, particularly the men, spend all their on-screen time trying to steal the movie, and Melissa McCarthy stops them, not by slapping them down but simply by being better. That is star quality.

(And holding her own against Peter Serafinowicz is quite an accomplishment.)
posted by Hogshead at 6:01 AM on April 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


Well I think now I'll have to check out Spy. Mike and Molly just really disappointed me. I'm not really one to watch network sitcoms anyways, but I wanted to give her a chance and it was really just a bunch of fat jokes. She is so much funnier than just fat jokes! I don't know if this got better as the show went on but I gave up after that.

I was pleasantly surprised by The Heat. I had no interest in watching it because I am not a fan of Sandra Bullock's comedies but oh my god it was hilarious, and all that was thanks to MMc. I fell in love with her during Bridesmaids and The Heat just made me fall deeper. She really is the funniest part of all the movies she's in.
posted by LizBoBiz at 7:13 AM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


A thing I have loved about Melissa McCarthy's movies (specifically The Heat, The Boss, Spy and Bridesmaids as I have not seen Identity Thief) is that she gets to be a sexual person even though she's a plus size woman over 40. She gets to desire men and men desire her back. And it's not because she's throwing herself at men or being a bookish wallflower staring longingly at guys either (okay, kind of in Spy but just at the beginning).

Spy gave me warm fuzzies because my father has been taking me to movies like that since I was a little girl and at one point, I remember thinking that it would be cool to be a spy. I kind of wish Spy existed when I was a little girl. There's one scene where Miranda Hart, Allison Janney, and Melissa McCarthy are all looking at something together and it just felt so refreshing to see women in all of these parts that typically would be male roles. And it felt effortless too. It didn't feel like someone said, what if we make that character a woman? I thought it was a real treat.

I wasn't too keen on The Boss but a friend of mine wanted to see it (the same friend with whom I saw Tammy) because she's adamant about supporting movies with Melissa McCarthy. She may not have a franchise but she might as well be a franchise.
posted by kat518 at 8:01 AM on April 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


(preceded by I-don't-know-how-long of harmless wacky sitcom best friend)

I don't know about Mike & Molly (and anyway, she was the lead and not the best friend) but if you're talking about Gilmore Girls, that characterization doesn't quite fit, IMHO. I've been rewatching lately and am struck by how much respect she actually got out of that show. Yes, she was the main character's best friend, and as such a foil of sorts to conventionally beautiful Lauren Graham--BUT, her character fell in love with and married a cool guy, was good at her job, and built up a family (more successfully so in many ways than did the lead). Also--I don't think Gilmore Girls mentioned her weight ONCE, which is freaking impressive in my book. She was dressed really well most of the time--I always swore that if I got married in a traditional wedding dress, it would be Sookie's dress from Gilmore Girls. That show treated her character--and therefore, her--right.
posted by dlugoczaj at 8:47 AM on April 18, 2016 [6 favorites]


The first few episodes of Gilmore Girls her character was the super klutz but that soon dropped off to being an occasional footnote.
posted by Mitheral at 9:15 AM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was actually surprised that the author didn’t include the nonstop terribleness of trailers for Melissa McCarthy movies as part of the argument, because they are universally bad.

The trailers for Spy tried to sell a movie that was literally the OPPOSITE of the movie Spy: fat lady falls down, people laugh at her.

The actual movie is infinitely better, because it is about people assuming her character will fail, and then constantly having to recalibrate their expectations because she is sheer nonstop excellence, once she is given room to actually do her job. The whole movie is basically a metaphor for Hollywood in particular and glass ceilings in general. People in charge keep saying people don’t want to see movies about women, well even if they do they don’t want to see THIS kind of movie about women, well even if they do they probably won’t want to see this kind of movie about women more than once in awhile, well even if they do it isn’t like those movies will be any good, well even if they are it isn’t as though men will like them too, well even if they do… and on and on. Spy is people giving her character things to do out of sheer desperation, and then (despite her ongoing success) feeling nettled that she is awesome instead of an embarrassment.

I can’t tell you how cathartic the movie was to watch the first time. It is about the relentless mediocrity of white dudes who try to act as gatekeepers out of fear that other people will be better than them. It is about how much ingenuity has been squandered and how much money has been left on the table because “it probably won’t work” and “this isn’t for you” and “our statistical models don’t account for this”. (It also showcases a lot of interesting takes on Emotional Labor, now that I think about it.)

Spy is also a pitch perfect homage to/parody of slickly produced spy movies, and it is worth it if you know the genre well enough to recognize the tropes. The scene with the allergies alone made me take my dad and brother, because I knew they would love it as spy movie aficionados. And they did.

The people making her trailers literally do not know how to sell the movies she’s making. Yet more of the attitude being skewered in many of the movies she’s making, weirdly enough.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:01 AM on April 18, 2016 [7 favorites]


Regarding trailers, since I know the trailer for Ghostbusters was a topic, thought I'd mention that they showed a trailer for Ghostbusters before The Boss and it was not that bummer of a trailer that had been going around. Surprisingly it featured a lot more Chris Hemsworth. Which I did not mind.
posted by kat518 at 11:17 AM on April 18, 2016


kat518: There's one scene where Miranda Hart, Allison Janney, and Melissa McCarthy are all looking at something together and it just felt so refreshing to see women in all of these parts that typically would be male roles. And it felt effortless too. It didn't feel like someone said, what if we make that character a woman? I thought it was a real treat.

Yes! Well said. I think that's part of what I found so enjoyable about Spy--it made me realize that when I want to watch something a little silly but still entertaining, I am often stuck watching something without any meaningful roles for women. It does get tiring--just kind of a steady grinding down of expectations.

It was such a breath of fresh air to see a movie that was not only well written, funny, and entertaining, but also--and this is important--told from the point of view of a woman who has healthy relationships with other women. Often when there's a main character who is female, she seems to not have any relationships with other women, or at least no positive relationships with them. That gets tiring, too.

I'm so looking forward to Ghostbusters, too. Somehow I had managed not to know/had forgotten there was an update in the works till I saw the trailer in the theatre! I loved the original, and I don't think this new one will disappoint.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:11 PM on April 18, 2016


"Mike and Molly just really disappointed me. I'm not really one to watch network sitcoms anyways, but I wanted to give her a chance and it was really just a bunch of fat jokes."

See also: That Rebel Wilson show that could have been good but was just aggressively terrible instead.
posted by klangklangston at 2:25 PM on April 19, 2016


The Boss doesn't seem like something I'd enjoy, but the trailer and advertisements for Tammy made me uncomfortable. It looked like Tammy was developmentally disabled and a lot of the jokes were about that. Is this the case? - posted by pxe2000

I really enjoyed Tammy because it really did emphasise how women find themselves in shitty stupid awful situations and you look down at yourself and wonder how the fuck it came to this. The supporting cast is brilliant (Sarandon is great but holy shit I wanna grow up to be Kathy Bates) and there is a lot of humour and a lot of...pathos I want to say? There's a scene near the end, when Tammy's dad is talking to her, and it makes me tear up. It isn't a pat little parable about 'here's how to get better' or 'your parents fuck you up' but a story about a woman whose life went to shit, and who changed it up. She's still her at the end, still crude and sometimes stupid, often reckless, but she has a maturity.

It's effectively your garden variety 'manchild grows up after personal trauma' except with a woman. Who isn't developmentally disabled, just incredibly average and kinda immature.

But yeah, I love MMc movies because she has a reality to her characters that is often missing. It's not just about her appearance, but it is about her ability to transcend that.
posted by geek anachronism at 12:23 AM on April 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


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