Written by Alison Carr

Arts

Why I ❤️ Melissa McCarthy

Alison Carr may have been a bit late to the Melissa McCarthy party, but she hopes her subsequent deep devotion will have made up for the tardiness.

Photo by Ryapasova, via Wikimedia Commons.

Photo by Ryapasova, via Wikimedia Commons.

Melissa McCarthy is currently being cool-as in the fabulously fun Ghostbusters. For me, any team that was going to reboot this classic into a female-led action comedy absolutely had to have McCarthy at its helm.

Since her Oscar-nominated breakout role in 2011’s Bridesmaids she has made the leap from quirky supporting character to full on, name-over-the-title lead.

Not only is she one of the funniest women working at the moment, her back catalogue of films champion women not as subplot sidekicks or love interests, but as funny, intelligent, complicated, crude, lovable, infuriating protagonists.

She all-out goes for it and her characters are often extreme and messy; women with opinions who’ll curse you out then pratfall down some stairs.

McCarthy began her career doing standup in New York, before moving to LA and joining improv comedy troupe The Groundlings, a group that also boasts Will Ferrell and fellow spook-botherer Kristen Wiig among its alumni. Television roles followed, and then film. Along the way she has earned serious clout that has seen roles rewritten for her and allowed her to write and produce her own films.

She speaks out against body-shaming and uses her voice to support and empower women. AND she can bust some moves on the dancefloor.

In short, I think she’s proper lush.

spyFive of my faves:
Spy (2015)

This was the first McCarthy film I saw at the cinema. I know I was late to the party, but I have made up for it since with total devotion. Like The Heat before it (also excellent), director Paul Feig puts women front and centre in a traditionally male-dominated genre.

Here’s a spy comedy that sees shy CIA desk worker Susan Cooper transform into an ass-kicking super agent. It’s McCarthy’s show all the way.

She’s a force of nature, funny, smart and gloriously foul-mouthed. Seriously, no one swears like MelMac. It’s a skill. As well as being a peerless improviser, she’s also a great physical comedian and the action scenes are endless fun, especially the kitchen showdown.

st vincentSt Vincent (2014)

Single mother Maggie struggles to raise her son and work the long hours her job demands, forcing her to leave him with less-than-appropriate babysitter Bill Murray.

McCarthy is a terrific and underrated dramatic actress, and here she gives a very moving, sympathetic performance as a woman doing her best and making mistakes.

Tammy (2014)

A controversial choice perhaps, but bear with. Written by McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone, and directed by Falcone, this was clearly McCarthy using her star-power to do something of her own.

The reviews were terrible. I admit to tuning in with some trepidation, but I found it very watchable and surprisingly sweet.

It’s uneven and the story is slight – down-on-her-luck Tammy goes on a road trip with her grandma Susan Sarandon – but there are laughs to be had, the central pair are great together and McCarthy brings likability and vulnerability as a woman who just can’t get out of her own way.

tammy
The Nines (1997)

A curious small-scale drama about a man who may or may not be a god, who lives three different lives that gradually intertwine. It’s all very weird and mind-melting, but McCarthy is lovely, delicate and varied in a trio of performances that are each a little bit heartbreaking in their own way.

It all goes very meta in part two when she plays a version of herself, an actress called Melissa who has just quit Gilmore Girls.

Speaking of which…

Bridesmaids
Bridesmaids (2011)

McCarthy was probably best known up until this point as Stars Hollow’s Sookie St James (in Gilmore Girls) and I like to think it was a relief for her to break out of those perky pigtails.

As sister-of-the-groom Megan she gives a hilarious, film-stealing, off-the-deep-end turn. Megan is an oddball in a flat cap and arm support who marches to the beat of her own drum.

She’s outspoken, rich-as, sexual (that Air Marshal doesn’t know what’s hit him), confident and warm-hearted. And she shits in a sink.

@AlisonCarr_

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Written by Alison Carr

Alison is a playwright and would-be tap dancer. She lives in Newcastle upon Tyne.