Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Woman of the Hour: Melissa McCarthy

Identity Thief with Jason Bateman

The Heat with Sandra Bullock

After a hilarious turn in Judd Apatow's Bridesmaids last year, and more recently a cameo in This is 40, Melissa McCarthy is back starring in what are sure to be two box office hits. In Identity Thief, McCarthy is a woman in Florida who steals Bateman's identity and goes buck wild, bathing in champagne and treating herself to whatever the fuck she wants. Thing is, she also seems to have stolen the identity of a Spanish mobster and of course poor Michael Bluth Jason Bateman gets literally caught in the crossfire. Best line of the trailer has got to be McCarthy's sour-faced and suspicious "What are you - Kenyan?" when she fails to outrun Bateman.

Then we have her costarring with Sandra Bullock in The Heat, already receiving comparisons to the breakthrough all-female comedy Bridesmaids. Wrongfully? Rightfully? While that's yet to be determined, the comedy is yet another notch on Bullock's belt of well-picked scripts. The woman doesn't fail at picking a decent script (hear that Denzel?). The Blindside? Made me cry. The Proposal? Rock solid rom-com. Crash? Miss Congeniality? Two totally different films but both classics in their own right.

While it's true that a comedy about two female cops certainly breaks the traditional men-with-guns, women-as-wives mold, I'm sort of uncomfortable with the immediate stereotypes these "female Hangover" movies get. Does it really need that label? Do we have to sit there and proudly clap our hands and give our nods of respect and approval just because, in the 21st century, we're watching a movie with two women making - God forbid - jokes? It's scary to me what a sore thumb Bridesmaids stuck out as. Holy shit! Women can be funny?! Wait - women can be funny and attractive?

But it's true, it's a difficult thing for a woman to succeed at. I'm a huge fan of comedy. I grew up with Monty Python and SNL. Airplane! and Life of Brian are two of my all-time favourite movies. I don't really get horror movies and movies about psychopaths in part because I cried myself to sleep and almost drowned in puddles of sweat after accidentally watching The In Crowd when I was 10 (which, having just watched the trailer, I'm legitimately bright-red embarrassed about, but as a 10 year old I had nightmares about it for weeks). And in part because when I watch a movie I want to be entertained, not scared out of my wits. Sure I love a good political thriller or CIA type movie or even a mystery if less than five people get murdered but my favourites movies to cozy up with at night are comedies. Yet good ones are hard to find. Most Hollywood blockbuster comedies are 5-6/10 at best and full of slapstick comedy. Jonah Hill falls down, an adult swearing or caught watching porn or something is hilarious. Slapstick is alright, but witty, immaculately written comedy and satires are the best and they are few and far between. Of the ones that do exist, they are virtually all written by men, for men, and starring men.

When you think of funny females today, who springs to mind? First I think of cheeky Ellen DeGeneres, who I personally find to be a good-looking woman but obviously as a gay woman she does not fit the conventional standards of the attractive women. Amy Poehler is another one I think is hilarious but is rarely hailed as a sex queen, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model or makes the top ten on Maxim's Hot 100 List. Not that these things matter but there is a distinct and definitive difference between smart and attractive women (Hillary Clinton, Maxim's #1! Christine Lagarde at #2!) and similarly between funny and attractive women.

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