Melissa McCarthy was given the coveted Comedic Genius popcorn statue at the MTV movie awards this weekend, the first female to ever take home the honour. Of her historic status, she said “I am certainly, certainly not the first one to deserve it.”
McCarthy is, in fact, a tour de force, and “not afraid to be the butt of the joke” according to her speech (invaluable advice from her mother). She’s a frickin national treasure who keeps making very mediocre movies. What gives?
Paul Feig knows how to handle McCarthy – he directed her to breakout success in Bridesmaids, replicated it with The Heat, and wrote for her beautifully in Spy. But McCarthy keeps sneaking in movies between those triumphs, movies she ostensibly has a hand in writing herself, along with husband Ben Falcone, and those ones tend to crash and burn with big fat flames. That said, Melissa McCarthy has never had a flop. Of her worst-reviewed films, Tammy made $85M, and Identity Thief took in $135M. The Boss will likely nestle among them critically, but it was McCarthy who finally unseated Batman v Superman at the box office this weekend. Someone’s buying tickets.
I am buying tickets. I love her. I’ve loved her since her stint on Gilmore Girls (and am thrilled that she’ll return for the reboot). But falling in love with her on Gilmore Girls means I like her at her bubbly, beautiful best, not as the slob who falls down stairs. And I tend to think that Paul Feig, and most of the film going public, agree with me. The gags and the prat falls are beneath her. We’re tired of such juvenile physical comedy. She’s already proven that she’s better than it, and capable of so much more.
I can’t tell you that The Boss is a great movie, because it’s not. It’s totally uneven. But the thing about “uneven” is that it’s not universally bad either. In fact, it gave me the giggles (Her opening number? A delight. She had me at T-Pain). But then she’d get launched across the room again, her face splat against some unforgiving surface, and I’d be shaking my head again.
Melissa McCarthy is charming and lovable. She’s got great timing and she recruits some very talented co-stars (Kathy Bates being a particular favourite of mine). She’s not a buffoon, and any movie that attempts to make her into one isn’t going to cut it for me. I needed a little taste of McCarthy to get me through this godforsaken, unending winter (I know it’s spring, but try telling that to my home underneath 3 feet of snow) and I got it. The Boss is unsatisfying, leaving me doubly impatient for this summer’s Ghostbusters reboot – luckily, with Paul Feig at the helm. I have every confidence that she’s going to deliver exactly what I’m hoping for, and here’s why. The big, brash McCarthy character? It’s being played by Leslie Jones. Melissa taking on a straighter character, and I bet that will suit me just fine.