Have you missed Monologue Mondays? I know I have. So let's start again and try to do this weekly.
Though Bridesmaids' Melissa McCarthy won her Oscar nomination for a variety of reasons (as people always do) you almost always need one Oscar "clip" to make it all the way to the lineup. You know the kind. It's an instant fix of the performance, which works in the way soundbites do for politicians or catchphrases do for sitcom stars. It's something they can play at the Oscars or at awards shows that will a) remind people why they loved the performance b) remind them why they liked the movie and c) pack a mini dramatic punch that justifies the nomination for the millions who might not have seen it yet. This can be true even if the person is nominated for a broadly comic role, as rare as those nominations are.
I think you're ready to hear a little story about a girl named Megan, a girl named Megan that didn't have a very good time in high school. I'm referring to myself when I say 'Megan'. It's me Megan.
Now the Oscars don't always select clips this way. Continued after the jump...
Sometimes they go without (we hate that!). Other times they seem to be actively trying to embarrass one particular nominee in a shortlist with their selection (you know that kind of clip, too. I bet one came to your mind while you read that sentence). I assume the scene that helped the most in clinching Melissa's nomination is the one late in the film, where she tells the story of her own difficult life in high schoo after heroically forcing Annie to see her own self-sabotage problem with slapstick comedy involving actual slapping. While the scene tugs at the heart, McCarthy also makes sure it stings and tickles.
But for whatever reason, the scene I always think of is her introduction and how well she telegraphs her singular character instanteously when Annie (Kristen Wiig) first meets her.
How's it going, Megan?
It's going great. It's going great. I'm on the mend. You know, I just got some pins in my legs, believe it or not. Pins in my leg. I can still do this, allright?
Fell off a cruise ship. But i'm back.
Oh shit? Yeah, oh shit. Yeah oh shit. Took a hard hard violent fall. Kind of pinballed down. Hit a lot of railings, broke a lot of shit.
She crams a lot detail into this introduction. Megan's a little tipsy. Megan loves to tell a story. But mostly you get the completely endearing but actually odd mashup of Social Misfit and People Person. Is she trying to impress (that funny dance) or is her motor mouth just nerves. Note the way she latches on to Annie's one interjection 'Oh shit' like it's a flotation device, a lifeline.
In this opening monologue she also keys you into Megan's love of animals (which will pay off with big laughs later in the movie) and her hedonistic appetite for life (I'm not talking food).
I didn't... I'm not going to say I survived, I'm going to say I thrived. I met a dolphin down there and I swear to god that dolphin looked, not at me, but into my soul. Into my goddamn soul, Annie. And said 'I'm saving you Megan.' Not with his mouth but he said it, I'm assuming, telepathically.
We had a connection that I don't even know if I can exp… oh Jesus... shut my mouth.
Some of the character is in the writing of course, but the Bridesmaids cast did a lot of comic improvisation. And even when actors don't change a word it's their job to sell it. And boy does she. Megan reveals later in the movie that she owns six homes. We'd all own that many if McCarthy was selling them. She turns this impossible totally odd caricature into a real character and even, arguably, the heart of the movie.
I'll readily admit that the first time through the movie I didn't quite get the fuss over McCarthy's work. I loved the entire cast but I loved them mostly equally (FWIW, in many years Kristen Wiig would've made my Best Actress list and Rose Byrne remains underappreciated for what is easily her best work) but on subsequent viewings she's ever more endearing. Megan has staying power and McCarthy's contribution sure was vital to the movie's unexpected deserved success.