Tag Archives: melissa mccarthy

Life of the Party

Dumb but funny.

First off, happy mother’s day mother fuckers. I spent the earlier part of Saturday celebrating with my mom and sisters (who are mothers themselves) over drinks, and probably food, but definitely drinks, in the heart of Ottawa’s vibrant Byward Market – and we just happened to do that beside Matt Smith, who was in town for Comic Con. Jason Momoa was also in town but I guess someone else had already offered to braid his hair like he was a sweet, sweet pony.

Anyway. Did it help that I had consumed drinks literally marketed as “fishbowls”? Likely yes. Did it help that some of the jokes made in the movie were oddly similar to the jokes we’d been making at my mom’s expense all day long? You bet. Maybe I was just in the mood to laugh, but laugh I did, and so did the rest of a pretty packed theatre.

In Life of the Party, Melissa McCarthy plays Deanna, a woman who’s just been dumped by her jackass husband after a quarter decade of devotion and submission. She decides MV5BMjQ5MjM2OTY1M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTQ2MzI0NTM@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1498,1000_AL_to capitalize on her freedom by finishing the degree she gave up in favour of pregnancy over twenty years ago – the only problem is, she’s now a classmate of her daughter Maddie, because of course she’s elected to go to the exact same college. And I should say: it’s a problem for her daughter, who thinks it’s less than fun to have her booze and sex parade rained out by her uncool mom, but it’s a dream come true for Deanna who can’t wait to spend every waking moment with her daughter, aka, the only good thing to come out of her crummy marriage. Things are further complicated when Maddie’s friends all fall maddeningly in love with Deanna’s endearing “down to clown” antics.

Here’s the thing. This movie is not really a good movie, and it’s not really trying to be. It’s not treading new ground, it’s not smart, it’s not edgy. It’s a a benign, somewhat ridiculous premise that merely exists in order to set up some fairly ludicrous jokes. But it does, quite frequently, knock them down with some punch. The script is less objectionable than most in McCarthy’s recent past, and her performance has got more zing and zeal than all the bedazzled sweatshirts in the movie combined (believe me, it’s substantial).

Do I recommend this movie? It’s hard to go that far. The cornball factor is high. But the truth is, Melissa McCarthy seems uniquely qualified to deal in cheese, and really, who doesn’t love cheese?

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The Life of David Gale

David Gale (Kevin Spacey) is an anti-death-penalty activist and professor in Texas (in Austin, Texas, actually, which happens to be where we’re headed this week for SXSW, but that’s just a weird coincidence). He’s quite politically active until he winds up on death row himself, accused and convicted of the murder of another activist (Laura Linney), and sentenced to capital punishment.

The_Life_of_David_Gale,_2003Journalist Bitsey Bloom (Kate Winslet) is brought in to do one last interview with him before he’s put to death, but what he tells her isn’t a straight forward of guilt or innocence, but rather challenges her notions of justice and the legal system. But can she trust what she’s being told, or is David Gale just a smarter-than-average killer?

The thing about this movie…[this is me trying to decide whether I’m going to be polite about it]…is it’s not very good. I mean, it’s trying to be mysterious with a message. But if you can imagine that the message is a big salami, then imagine getting hit in the teeth with this salami, well, that’s The Life of David Gale.

Obviously it’s not for capital punishment. Or is that obvious? Or even true? Because I think tumblr_nijqy0nx9o1t0t91ao7_1280unintentionally, somewhere in the convoluted mess, it might actually manage to do the complete opposite. The Life of David Gale certainly traps some very worthy actors in a mess they can’t act their way out of. Kate Winslet is pretty Winsletty, although she does a fair bit of running just to show how urgent, how life-and-deathy this whole thing is, but Spacey: man. That guy did not get the good end of the salami here. He’s particularly bad acting opposite the kid playing his young son. It’s just uncomfortable to watch.

The film, Alan Parker’s last, wants to be thought-provoking but leaves neither room nor nuance for any thought at all. Although it lures you in with the promise of high concept, it’s more manipulative and frankly, more mundane than you’ll think possible. It ends up feeling fairly generic despite a stellar cast with 13 Oscar nominations between them. In the end, I was just hoping they’d be put out of their misery, which is probably the last message an anti-death-penalty movie wants to send. Then again, nothing about The Life of David Gale suggests that anyone put even that much thought into it.

Ghostbusters

When I was a little girl, I had a Ghostbusters siren on the right handlebar of my bike. On the left, I had a Slimer horn. I was dedicated to kickin ass and bustin ghosts and doing both from the luxurious banana seat on my Blue Angel bike. But the boys? The boys always kristen-wiig-ghostbusters-2-16132-1468265440-1_dblbigthought I should be Janine, the secretary. There’s nothing wrong with being a secretary, but there’s a reason nobody plays secretary. It’s just sitting at a desk! I wanted the glory, dammit, not the paperwork.

So a word to all you “Ghostbros” out there: there’s a reason why they’re “ruining your childhood” by making this movie. It’s because it’s little fucks like you who ruined mine.

And while we’re on the subject, I don’t buy this “It’s about our childhood” argument anyway. No, it’s not. You’re sexist, magotty little misogynists and you’re too afraid to say it to my face because you know I’ll kick your ass. This movie does not have the ability to time travel back to your snot-nosed lame-ass childhood where your only friend was your Stay-Puft marshmallow man toy and make a mockery of it. You’re the one making a mockery of it, and I’m guessing you have been for about 35 years. This bizarre hatred for a movie you’ve never seen is sexism, pure and simple. Hollywood has been rebooting movies for years. No one cried to their mommy when they rebooted Batman. ghostbusters-iiiNobody worried that their childhood Batman was ruined. No one panics when they reboot James Bond every 10 years. As long as you replace a man with another man, everything’s cool. Look, I’m sorry adulthood isn’t working out for you. I’m sorry girls never took an interest. But hating this movie won’t make you cool. And if you are truly, truly worried that seeing a brand new Ghostbusters movie will somehow sully your memory of the first, here’s a thought: just don’t watch it. I know! It’s revolutionary! Don’t go to the movie (I’m sure you exercised this right when they made a sequel back in 1989, one that failed to live up to its predecessor, or to its sucessor). You don’t have to judge it without having seen it. You don’t have to out yourself as a coward and a woman-hater. You just have to opt not to see it. I mean, it’s a stupid move because this movie’s great, but I’m guessing you and stupid moves are well-acquainted.

I won’t bother you with a synopsis because I’m guessing you all know what Ghostbusters do. It’s pretty much just a new team who happen to be women, who happen to know a lot about the occult, who happen to be sciency enough to do something about it. The script is hella-funny. The ghostbusting is pretty badass. And there’s just enough spook to get your pulse racing in a few places. Plus Paul Feig is just the right guy to get the job done. I knew we were in good hands when I saw how reverently he treated Spy – this guy is just a fan of movies. He’s respectful, but he knows how to poke fun in just the right places. And he writes exceptionally well for women.

The ladies are superbly well-cast. Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig are the most talented comediennes we have, but they play straight-ladies in this case. Ghostbusters is a coming out party for Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones, and let me tell you, they have arrived. Matt was surprised by how much he liked Jones in this but for me, it was all about maxresdefaultMcKinnon. Her character is bizarre and oblivious but McKinnon somehow humanizes her and pulls off some really cheeky, sweet, inspired moments under Feig’s loose direction (being an SNL alum probably helps quite a bit – he’s a big fan of letting his cast improvise). We stayed right to the end of the credits to squeeze every bit of juice out of this thing, and were rewarded. In fact, the movie itself is crowded with little gifts, among them cameos from plenty of original Ghostbusters. Who was your favourite, Matt?

M: I’m always excited to see Bill Murray but Dan Aykroyd’s part was the funniest even though I didn’t recognize him at first.

It was really great seeing love and support from the 1980s cast. This movie isn’t about replacing an old favorite, it’s about updating a classic and introducing it to a whole new generation. Homage is paid. Respect given. Isn’t that enough? Sean, you’re the right age and sex to be outraged by the audacity – how do you feel?

S: It did not ruin my childhood or ruin my memories of the first one. It was definitely more fun than the sequel. It was an enjoyable movie that I can’t understand anyone hating. Just a good old summer blockbuster.

The first one was a bit of magic. It was different and fun and exciting. The 2016 Ghostbusters isn’t a new idea, it isn’t different, but it’s just as fun and exciting. I can’t imagine what more you’d want.

The Boss

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.”

gettyimages-520353144%20(1)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 boss(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.

the_boss_melissa_mccarthy_afprelaxI 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) andghostbusters-1-800 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.

The Bronze

 

In 2004, Hope Ann Greggory (Melissa Rauch) made her small Ohio town proud by bringing home the coveted Olympic Bronze Medal in women’s gymnastics. With her career cut short by a minor injury, Hope has been costing on that accomplishment ever since.

Rauch, who co-wrote this script with her husband, is best known for a show that I don’t watch. She insists though that Hope is a huge departure from her Big Bang Theory character and I’m willing to take her word for it. Unless CBS is willing to let her masturbate to footage of her glory days or say things like “absence makes the dick grow harder”, Chuck Lorre fans may be in for a side of the third most famous female BBT actress that they made not be ready for.

Hope is an obnoxious mess. Living with, mooching off of, and verbally abusing her sweet mailman dad (very well-played by Gary Cole), she makes a living off of stealing cash from his route. She also has a habit of going on a spoiled brat tirade of obscenities every time she hears something she doesn’t like, giving the sentenced-to-network-television actress a chance to do her best Melissa McCarthy (but somehow sounding a lot like Reese Witherspoon in Election).

Hope gets a second chance at life when her former coach dies and, for implausibly selfish reasons, she decides to take over coaching a promising sixteen year-old (Haley Lu Richardson) with dreams of Olympic gold. Richardson plays Maggie as naïve, hard-working, and loveable and Hope comes very close to ruining her. When Maggie beings to make the mistake of believing her own hype, The Bronze judges her way too harshly for the same attitude that it is so ready to forgive the 30 year-old Hope for.

The supporting cast of characters that Hope treats like shit- her dad, her pupil, and her sweet love interest (Tom Middleditch)- are all easy to like and make the film itself much more enjoyable to watch. The real problem is Rauch. As much fun as it must have been for her to unleash her inner Apatow, she’s more annoying than charmingly outspoken and her eventual redemption is too little-too late. And the ending, without giving too much away, is unforgiveable.

Spy

We had a busy weekend out-of-town but slid back just in time to make it to the drive-in and give this one the eyeball.

You know what I liked about this movie? A lot, actually. First, it’s not a spoof. Don’t call it a spoof. It’s a legit action movie that happens to also be funny. Second, it’s not funny because Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is bad at her job. She’s a top agent, extremely competent if rs_600x600-150401084422-600_Spy-Movie-Jason-Melissa_jl__040115somewhat reluctant. It’s funny because she’s not quite got that James Bond suaveness down pat – she still gets a kick out globe-trotting and being upgraded to premium economy. She hasn’t let the whole spy thing go to her head. Third, it’s not just the hero who’s a female – so is her sidekick (Miranda Hart) and her adversary (Rose Byrne), and they’re all great.

Its highest gear isn’t quite comparable to what Daniel Craig is doing over at Spectre, but there’s a kitchen knife fight that’s pretty intense and you can tell that a lot of work went into its choreography. McCarthy gets to stretch some muscles she hasn’t used in a while with a versatile performance rather than a crude caricature. But the greatest treat is that she’s isn’t funny alone; Feig has this great trickle-down effect where he expects everyone to get laughs, and they do, even the cutaway character reaction shots. The best laughs, though, probably come at the expense of Jason Statham, who welcomes them. Nobody else  75could have played it so well because the jokes don’t just hit back at the manly superagent type, but also specifically at Statham’s career, and he’s game. Obscenely game! And while McCarthy is undoubtedly the star, Feig gives everyone a chance to shine, because if funny is good, then very funny is very good.

Big applause to Paul Feig for being the only one who can truly write for Melissa McCarthy – and that includes McCarthy herself. In anyone else’s hands she turns into a clown. A big, crass joke who’s too obnoxious to appreciate. Feig doesn’t need to humiliate her. He elevates her with the right element, the right foil, and with good writing and the right context, she makes the movie sparkle, and she led this one right to the top of the box office this weekend, smoked right by those Entourage boys like the badass she is.

 

Tammy

Melissa McCarthy plays Tammy, an unhappy woman in the middle of the worst day ever when 1404237409_melissa-mccarthy-tammy-review-467we meet her. On her way to her crappy fast food job, she hits a deer and nearly totals her car. Late to work and bloodied from her accident, her manager fires her on the spot aaaaaand she doesn’t take it well. She makes less than a gracious exit; “burning bridges” comes to mind. She heads home only to find her husband engaged in some very bad behaviour. So naturally she decides to run away with grandmother (Susan Sarandon).

tammy1This movie is fun, and sometimes funny, but it’s never as funny as you’d hope. After all this is Melissa McCarthy. Her star shines pretty bright. She and her husband Ben Falcone wrote the script; she stars, he directs. But if they were given carte blanche, they wasted it. For two crazy funny people, they’ve hatched a pretty mediocre comedy here. McCarthy does her loudmouth thing. Sarandon is just not believable as an old granny despite the wig and bifocals meant to blunt her sensuality. It’s still Susan Sarandon, who is effing hot. The two make for an odd pair, and sometimes the relationship hits the right notes but other times it just feels sour. Kathy Bates almost steals the show as the kind of cousin who’s good to have around in a pinch.

I saw this movie and laughed. Lots of people must have – the critics didn’t care for it, but audiences turned it into a 100 million dollar hit. But I’m still not happy about it. First, because I 130515235652-gilmore-1-story-topthink McCarthy is very smart and this kind of comedy demeans her. Second, because we keep seeing her do this “schtick” over and over: obnoxious fat girl with a dirty mouth. And the thing is, this is not the Melissa McCarthy I know and love. Lots of people came to know and appreciate her with the movie Bridesmaids, where she played another belching, awkward bull. But I know McCarthy from her Gilmore Girls days where she played an adorable chef and businesswoman named Sookie. She was sweet and charming and weird and FUNNY. Funny without it being crass, or referencing her weight, which, to the best of my knowledge, was a non-issue on the show. She was just a funny woman who looked like a lot of women do.

And now Hollywood has turned her into the female Chris Farley. She isn’t just a comic who Melissa-McCarthyhappens to be fat, she’s a fat comedian. Her characters are fat, the kind of fat that is “gross” and should be laughed at. Do it once and it might be inspired, but make a career out of it and it starts to feel like exploitation. America loves to laugh at fat people. And fat women? Laughing at them is all they’re good for. And it looks like McCarthy is afraid of just that – that if she tried to just be Sandra Bullock’s sweet best friend, audiences wouldn’t buy it. How many times have you seen a fat woman in a movie who is not meant as the comic relief?

Often referred to as “America’s plus-size sweetheart,” Melissa McCarthy responds “It’s like I’m managing to achieve all this success in spite of my affliction.” And the thing is, I feel confident that she’s worth so much salt than she’s showing. We saw a tiny glimpse of her playing straight in St Vincent but that’s exactly the problem: unless they’re prepared to be raunchy cannon balls, a fat woman must be relegated to fat best friend, the one who never has a boyfriend of her own. A sad sack, unless she’s black, and then she’s sassy. But still alone and negligible.

1403892018482_melissa-mccarthy-ben-falcone-gq-magazine-july-2014-01Dear Melissa McCarthy: you are beautiful and talented and mega successful.  You are so much better than this. Please stop playing a caricature! Your audience patiently awaits you,

Jay

 

 

(add your name in the comments if you agree!)

 

Women in Hollywood

Russell Crowe is an ass. Everyone knows this. So when he recently went on a rant about how there are plenty of parts for women in movies so they should just shut their yaps and “act their age” no one was surprised by the medium or the message. As long as there’s been movies, there’s been sexism  and by god, where sexism goes so does ageism.

Looking at this year’s Oscar nominations it was pretty clear to me that meatier roles go to men, but I’m not going to sit here and lament the missed opportunities when instead I could be celebrating the success.ghostbusters

Earlier today, Paul Feig posted an untitled photo to Twitter featuring Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones. Feig provided absolutely  no comment but fans were quick to speculate that this was the cast of his much-discussed reboot of The Ghostbusters franchise. McKinnon and Jones are both current members of SNL while Wiig and McCarthy are already Feig collaborators, having co-starred in Bridesmaids, the highest grossing domestic R-rated female comedy of all time, edging out Sex and the City (2008).

Meanwhile, at Sundance,  Emily Nussbaum, award-winning critic for the New Yorker, moderated a panel of “Serious Ladies” featuring the uber-talented Wiig, Jenji Kohan (who wrote for Sex and mindy-kaling-cover-ftrthe City and Gilmore Girls before creating Orange Is the New Black and Weeds), Lena Dunham (creator and star of Girls) and Mindy Kaling (writer\producer\star of The Mindy Project). Although they’re all at the top of their game, they all shared stories about how tough it was to break in. Kohan recalled male-dominated writers’ rooms where one cave-dweller told her  “If God had meant women to be in a writer’s room he wouldn’t have made breasts so distracting.” Kaling discussed the pressure to be a role-model versus the artist’s craving to push the envelope and maybe even offend. Sometimes feminism means creating a female character that isn’t necessarily “likeable.”

Dunham, who recently released a memoir, spoke about the difficulty women face in being dunham-lena-podcast-sl-hollywoodmistaken for the characters they play (and wondered why Woody Allen and Larry David don’t get pigeonholed in quite the same way). She hopes to one day see women outnumber men in their profession – “That would be my favourite, if guys some day were to say, ‘It’s impossible to get into Hollywood! It’s a women’s club!’ ”

Jenji Kohan pointed out that she was still expected to write material about weddings and uzomotherhood, a notion she challenges with the huge success of her show, Orange Is The New Black. That series, a Netflix original, won big at the Screen Actors Guild awards on Sunday. Uzo Aduba took home Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series that night (she plays “Crazy Eyes), and gave a heartfelt speech. But the best part was the love and support coming from the OITNBUZO ADUBA OF THE NETFLIX SERIES "ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK" ACCEPTS THE AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY AN ENSEMBLE IN A COMEDY SERIES ALONG WITH HER FELLOW CAST MEMBERS AT THE 21ST ANNUAL SCREEN ACTORS GUILD AWARDS IN LOS ANGELES table – it’s always heartening to see women cheering each other on. Aduba was back on stage before long – the show also won Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, wrestling away the honour from Modern Family. What a great sight to see so many strong and talented ladies on the stage at once.

There are still mountains to climb for women in Hollywood, but if you look around (or follow our Twitter feed – @assholemovies ) you’ll find rashidajonestoystorybrave mountaineers everywhere. Just today it was announced that Toy Story 4 would be making its way to theatres in 2017 and that Rashida Jones and her writing partner Will McCormack would be tapped for the screenplay. Although they only have one previous credit to their names (Celeste and Jesse Forever), John Lasseter insists he “wanted to get a strong female voice in the writing of this.” This is a nice change from Pixar’s usually male-dominated animated lineup (Buzz, Woody, Nemo, Mike, Sully, Wall-E, etc) and a step in the right direction for us all.

St. Vincent

Nominated both for Best picture and best actor (musical or comedy in both cases) at this year’s Golden Globes, St. Vincent stars Bill Murray as a lonely old alcoholic who just wants to be left alone until, needing the money, he takes a job as a 10 year-old kid’s babysitter. During their time together, Bill introduces him to a lady of the night, teaches him how to fight and gamble, and takes him to a bar. The two also develop an unexpected (at least to each other) bond while we ponder the true meaning of sainthood.

There’s almost nothing in the script or the direction that deserve the charm or emotional payoff of the finished product. The credit really has to go to the actors. The kid, played by Jaeden Lieberher, is too smart and grown up. The kind you only see in movies. But played by Lieberher, we can almost believe it. I don’t know where they found this kid but the way he plays Oliver as a kid learning to be more comfortable in his own skin is believable even if the lines he has to read aren’t. His troubles fitting in at his new school should be a chore we have to sit through while we wait for more misbehaviour with Murray but, because Chris O’dowd is so likable as his teacher, they are some of my favourites in the whole movie. Melissa McCarthy as Oliver’s mom plays it refreshingly straight.

But none of this would be nearly enough if not for Bill Murray. At this point in his career, Murray can play sad and aging with about as much effort as it takes Morgan Freeman to play old and wise or Johnny Depp to play Jack Sparrow but in the last half of the movie, he even shows aspects of his talent that we haven’t really got to see yet. It’s a performance that makes his Best Actor nomination a no-brainer, even if the Best Picture nomination is bizarre. I blame Murray for the lump in my throat I had at the end, with emotions that this script just didn’t earn.

See Jay’s review of St. Vincent.