I've been wanting an excuse to go after Rex Reed for some time now. That's not the way I typically go into an article or a commentary. Usually I just scour the entertainment wires and FB film groups, for something interesting to talk about and discuss, and there are days when nothing of any real inspirational substance jumps at me, and I have to make something up to write about, but not this time. Once this hit the wire, whoosh! That's it, I've finally got my rope, now to tighten the noose. For those who don't know who Rex Reed is, good for you. For the rest of you, he's a "legendary" in quotes, "film critic," for the New York Observer. He is to film criticism, what Snooki is to film criticism. How the hell he's been doing this for 40+ odd years, is beyond me. This little piece of controversy, comes from his obnoxious review of "Identity Thief", which isn't so much a review as it is, three paragraphs of different ways to call Melissa McCarthy fat. I've posted a link to his review below.
In this single review, he calls her, and I quote, "cacophonous", "tractor-sized", "humongous," "female hippo", "grotesque", and "obese", on top of which, he calls her screechy, and obnoxious, and the really insulting and most wrong part of his review, is that he calls her a "gimmick comedian". (Actually to be fair, he didn't call her, grosteque; he called the sex scene that she's in, grosteque, so, there, one point for him.) First of all, it's comedienne, second, to say that kind of thing, proves that he has no idea what it means to be talented, or a comedian, or what a gimmick is, or has any understanding of just how talented Melissa McCarthy is. She basically carries her show "Mike & Molly", which wouldn't work with any other actress. Her work in "Bridesmaids", (Which according to rottentomatoes.com, he didn't review, even after it got two major Oscar nominations) is one of the greatest comic performances in film, I've ever seen, easily one of the best I've seen in a decade, by a man, or a woman. (To be frank, she should've won the Oscar last year, sorry Octavia Spencer) She's also a great sketch comedy actress, as to her guest-host work on "Saturday Night Live", plus she was a member of the famed Improv troupe, the Groundlings. The keyword being, actress. Some of you forget that she spent seven years on "Gilmore Girls" of all things, in a role that has little similarity to the more crass and comically extroverted parts she's getting known for now, on top of numerous other movie roles she's had in films like "Go", "Drowning Mona", and "Pumpkin", as well as the critically-acclaimed TV show, "Samantha Who?". Understanding how she can be this talented, and not an overnight sensation, known for being fat, is the job of a critic, and to not simply write a review based on one's own prejudices. Now, I haven't seen "Identity Thief", so I can't judge the film personally. Based on others reviews I've read, Reed is not alone in giving it a negative review, most known critics have panned the movie. However this is not new for him. He criticized John Belushi for being fat a few times as well, and I'm willing to presume, he's probably criticized others. (I'd go through every one of his movie reviews I could find, but, dear lord, why would I put myself through that?!) He's also responsible for the glaringly untrue rumor about Jack Palance saying the wrong name at the Oscars when Marisa Tomei won for "My Cousin Vinny". (Another one of the greatest of comedic performance) According to wikipedia.com, in his review of "Oldboy," he took the time to basically, insult all of South Korea, and the food they eat. (A review that I couldn't find on the New York Observer's web page.) He's also a publicity hog. He's cursed about John Wayne on "The Dick Cavett Show", and his numerous appearance on "Tomorrow Coast to Coast", Tom Snyder's old talk show, and he's even acted, both as himself, and acting as characters in occasional movies. He's one of those movie critics, who's infamous for being particularly vicious, usually because he can, not that I occasionally haven't, but there's a difference. I become vicious and mean-spirited, when there's absolutely no other way I can describe something; he does it, frankly, because he can, and he isn't talented enough, either as a critic or a writer to say anything else.
When I started writing reviews, I started reading as many reviewers as I could. Well, I always did do that anyway, but I thought it would be beneficial to find out what people who actually get paid to do this kind of work write, and how well they write, and the different styles of writing and such. Basically, I was scouting my competition. I had of course, heard of Rex Reed, and even recalled him guest-hosting "At the Movies," during an episode where he and Roger Ebert disagreed over the Spike Lee film "Summer of Sam", where Roger Ebert gave a positive review noting the numerous parallels the film has to Lee's "Do the Right Thing", and which Reed, vehemently denied the movie having, and gave a strong negative review of the film. After seeing the movie, he was entirely wrong then too. (Just watch them, back-to-back one day, they're practically two sides of the same coin.) However, it was his review of David Fincher's version of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", which to my surprise, was actually a positive review of the film, that really started showing me that this guy, shouldn't be reviewing films. I read the review, in a local alternative magazine, called the Vegas Seven. Here's the link to their webpage.
There's three major local alternative mags that deal with entertainment, local politics and the such, the Seven is the newest of these of these rags, and the most commercially-produced; it's actually apart of a series of local rags, put out by the Observer Media Group, who owns numerous newspaper and periodicals across the country. Now, unlike the two rags that I read most of the time, the Las Vegas Weekly, and my favorite, the Las Vegas CityLife, they don't have an in-house film critic, and instead, they republish the work of other, more nationally-known film critics that work at other Observer Media Group periodicals write, and originally, the headline film review with almost every issue, was Rex Reed's. They've since changed that to have Michael Phillips, of the Chicago Tribune, have the lead film reviews, and while he's a bit of a wiseass himself, to the point of mild annoyance, he's a far-better film critic and writer than Rex Reed ever will pretend to be, and he actually knows about film and filmaking. But, back to my criticism, his review of David Fincher's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," and again, here's the link to that post below.
In this review, where he trashes the original Swedish movie and the book as well, his main complaint about the murder-mystery is that it's incomprehensible. From his review, "If I had found it half as incomprehensible as it is, I might have liked it twice as much" "Here, the brain-twisting plot begins to get delusional". "Steven Zaillian's convuluted script, so muddled that even after it's over, you still don't know what it's all about-- is a drawback...". He also, gives away the ending of the movie btw, as well as some other key plotpoints that a more educated critic, would've only hinted at. Now, to the untrained eye, to read those quotes, you might have thought that, while he's being obnoxious about it, basically he's just saying that the movie's plot is a bit of a confusing mess, incomprehensible, was his word. Fair enough. I won't go into how I disagree with him on that, and how I understood the plot perfectly fine, which I did, but I saw something else in this review, between the lines of those sentences, and that is that, he has absolutely know clue, of the basic simple concept of what a mystery story, is about. Reed thinks that mysteries are about, who committed the crime? Anybody who's studied film, and who's written, anything on film noir or Agatha Christie, or Sherlock Holmes, or any detective story, knows that, who committed a crime, has absolutely nothing to do with mysteries; mysteries are about the journey and the process of solving the crime.
I'll give you an example, who commits the crime in "In the Heat of the Night," and why did he do it? I know the answer, but I'll bet you half the people who've seen the movie, this Best Picture Oscar-winning, great, classic film, couldn't give you the answer. Why? Cause the movie's not about the crime, it's about the two detectives, the Southern bullheaded racist white cop, Rod Steiger, and the Black, big city detective Sidney Poitier, trying to solve the crime, and about racism, and race relations in Sparta County, Mississippi, where the film takes place. How about the best example of this, "The Big Sleep," of course, based on the novel by Raymond Chandler, the modern architect of crime fiction and detective stories. If you follow everything that happens logically, one character, killed two people, after he jumped off a bridge. A plothole that big, shouldn't be a masterpiece, right? But it's about Bogart playing Philip Marlowe, and the great dialogue like "She tried to sit in my lap while I was standing up," and the scenes with him and Lauren Bacall.... His constant complaining in this one review I've read, (And I've gone back to read a few others, like his recent negative reviews of "Lincoln" and "Moonrise Kingdom," two films I picked randomly believe it or not, because they were reviews of films I've seen, and went backwards after looking him up on rottentomatoes.com) is a sign that he is incapable to be a film critic, 'cause he doesn't understand, literally the first thing, about one of film's most important and longest-lasting genres. Now, that was the review, that made me stop reading Rex Reed, and for a long time, made me stop reading the Las Vegas Seven, until they changed their, movie review section. I'd like to pretend that they did it in part, to some of my pointed tweets to them, regarding Rex Reed inclusion in the periodical, but I can't confirm that.
He is a bad writer himself I might add. I'm not gonna pretend I'm Shakespeare or Roger Ebert, but I am better than him. He seems unsatisfied with a review, unless he can use as many two-to-three-word adjectives in a sentence as humanly possible, and the way he continues berates about films that are self-important, ironic considering his own twisted view of his importance,- well, it's obnoxious. It's the word I keep coming to, because it's the go-to emotion for people who don't understand what they're doing, and are in over there heads, like people who disrupt a classroom and get in trouble to hide the fact that they can't read. (Not trying to make fun or light of anybody with actual learning disabilities, just making a point about his behavior, while recognizing that unlike Mr. Reed, I know when I may have offended someone, and am polite enough to apologize and explain, without sounding like an out-of-touch asshole.) I'd bash his writing abilities more, but, why bother, that can't be helped.
Rex Reed gives legitimate, intellectual, and educated critics like myself, a bad name. He's one of those critics who people talk about, when they say that they don't read or trust critics, and say things like "They don't know what they're talking about". Yes, Melissa McCarthy is not a supermodel, and yes, in a perfect world, I think it'd be better if she lost weight. In a perfect world, it'd be better if I could lose weight too, but that's not her gimmick. She's a talented actress/comedienne, who is overweight, and just happens to be talented enough and aware enough of her own body and perception, to use it for great comedic and occasionally, dramatic effect. If she's in a bad movie, well that happens to the best of actors, and Rex Reed should know that more than anybody. Yet, he doesn't know that, and he doesn't know a lot of things. He's been in this business long enough that he should. too.
So, I say to you, Rex Reed, from me, and intelligent and knowledgeable film critics everywhere, you don't know what you're talking about!