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« Supporting Actress, My Ballot | Main | BAFTAs "live" »
Sunday
Feb102013

Melissa McCarthy Robs the Box Office Blind

It was a big big weekend for Melissa McCarthy, who capitalized on that big Bridesmaids breakthrough with her first huge headliner opening of the year in Identity Thief. I use the word "first" because clearly there'll be a second. Her buddy comedy with Sandra Bullock The Heat opens in just two months time. Here's why I knew Identity Thief would be big: three of my friends -- two of whom are rarely seen inside movie theaters (the last thing they saw was Skyfall) -- both told me they wanted to see it. 

box office chart repurposed and photoshopped from boxoffice.com

Critics were not kind to the comedy. And that's before we even get to the subject of Rex Reed who notoriously called McCarthy a "female hippo" in his review prompting outrage 'round the web (i.e. more name-calling only this time directed at Reed and his age instead of McCarthy and her weight). But I liked Gawker's take. If the movie is seriously as bad as people are saying, shouldn't McCarthy who is obviously talented and truly funny, bare some responsibility? Why do reliably funny actors so rarely star in actually hilarious movies? (I remember being shocked while watching Date Night and Baby Mama that the movies were not half as funny as Tina Fey is as Tina Fey.) Is the problem that funny people are asked to be the entire joke?

Other Box Office Stories...

  • Side Effects opened to a non-stellar non-embarrassing $10 million
  • Argo went wide again to capitalize on Oscar buzz and rejoined the top ten
  • Top Gun got a 3D conversion earning just under $2 million (and a new limited edition 3D Blu-Ray)
  • Silver Linings Playbook continues to inch toward the $100 million Best Picture Nominee club which is very crowded this year.

What did you see this weekend? I finally watched Yossi but otherwise it wasn't a movie weekend for me.

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Reader Comments (25)

Did a double feature of Identity Thief and Silver Linings.
Melissa McCarthy is a wonderfully funny and talented woman and while the movie wasn't the worst thing I've ever seen it was ridiculous and unworthy of those talents. I'd say better luck next time but there was a preview of The Heat before the movie and it was painfully bad, it looks much worse than ID Thief.
Silver Linings Playbook was enjoyable and a fine production but I fail to see any Best Picture qualifications. As far as the performances Jennifer Lawrence was best although she didn't blow me away. Bradley was very good, but better than DDL-no. DeNiro is the best he's been in years but I didn't think it was an Oscar performance and Jacki Weaver, who I think is a terrific actress, is good but her part was just a collection of supportive glances nowhere near the incisive work that Sally Field turned in as Mary Todd Lincoln.

February 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

Why do funny people make not funny movies? Pretty easy: comedy filmmaking at the studio level is practically a dead art form. The development process kills any good ideas, talented writers are fired and rewritten then rehired then fired again, and the top comedy directors are almost all talentless hacks. Some actors try to work within the system and sneak in something subversive or substantive or, you know, actually funny when they can, but the compromises required to get anything through the system inevitably lead to deeply flawed end products. Most of the actors just give in and go along and take the pay check.

I saw Side Effects. Solid February thriller. Nice to see Jude Law in a lead role.

February 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

I saw ParaNorman and loved it! The horror movie references and music, the dialogue, the visuals...all so great.

Happy that McCarthy is doing so well, unhappy if the movie is really as bad as people say it is.

February 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

Lore also came out this week in NY/LA. It is amazing. I'd be very interested to hear Nathaniel's take, but either way- I highly, highly recommend it.

February 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Joel, I must respectfully disagree with you on a couple of things. Not about Identity Thief (I've not seen it yet) but about your comments regarding the best acting categories. DDL was great. But it was not the best performance this year, nor in his career. A third of the time I kept hearing him speaking with a British accent. It was disconcerting to hear Midwestern Abe breaking int London accent. That was not impressive. The performance was quite nuanced and good. But BEST, I think not. I would say Hugh Jackman or Bradley Cooper (although Denzel Washington was pretty damned good too.)

As for Best Female Actress, I thought that there were four outstanding performances this year, all worthy of the Oscar: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook; Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild ; Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty ; Naomi Watts, The Impossible. I've seen all of these movies twice now because all of these performances were phenomenal. Miss Wallis should win, because she probably won't me nominated again and she certainly is worthy. But I thought Jennifer's performance was masterful, especially given the range of the role. Jessica and Naomi were masterful too. So it's hard, really.

About Robert DeNiro, we both sort of agree!? I thought it was his best performance in while. But I think he deserves the best supporting actor. Jackie Weaver was great but doesn't come close to Anne Hathaway. Sally Field was, as always, very good. But I somehow felt I was watching Norma Rae in a period piece. DDL and SF really all delivered what I thought to be rather bland. She is brilliant and I mean no disrespect but she is one of the greatest. I just found Anne Hathaway's performance perhaps the most astonishing and best of any actor this year.

As great as it was, I think Lincoln was overrated. It was predictable, although I do think for Spielberg it was new territory and I think he did a remarkable. So, since Affleck was left out, give Mr. Spielberg best director.

But the best picture belongs to Argo, IMHO. This was the best year of best picture nominees ever (I'm 50 yo). In a normal year, I would think Lincoln should sweep the awards. But this year had so many remarkable films and performances that the traditional just doesn't cut it. I've seen all Oscar nominated films (most more than once or twice) except Django Unchained which I will see before the awards.

I appreciate your thoughts, all educated and thoughtful! Thanks for letting me express my comment.

February 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark Gaulding

Sorry for previous posting with all of the italics......I didn't turn off italic html codes and there's no way to edit now. By the way, Nathaniel R., this is a GREAT blogsite.

February 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark Gaulding

Saw Leo Carax' Les Amants du Pont Neuf, which was flat out astonishing. I'm rather agog still.

February 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

I really liked "Side Effects." Rooney Mara is interesting and talented (movie fans should be glad that part did not go to Blake Lively). Catherine Zeta-Jones gets to do some heavy breathing, and Jude Law is adorable.

February 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJason

Mark Gaulding: Miss Wallis' next film is 12 Years a Slave. If that's the ongoing tone of her career, she's going to be nominated again, even if it's not for that film.

February 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Saw Side Effects and Beast Of the Southern Wild earlier today. Side Effects was much better than I thought it would be and is by far the best release of the year so far. As for Beast, I thought it was slow in places but effective overall. Wallis was adorable but I'm not sure it was necessarily "great acting". I have the Blu-Ray on the top of my Netflix Queue, though, so I'll be seeing it again in a few days and maybe I'll change my mind. Either way, a good day at the movies.

February 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Armour

The Heat's release date was actually moved to June 28th, right in the dead of summer. Maybe it's tracking well? But if you look at the movies coming out the same week (Kick-Ass 2, White House Down, I'm So Excited), they aren't exactly huge commercial threats; maybe they're just releasing it in a thin week as a desperate move to try and pick up what they can.

February 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDrew

When you ask who should bear the responsibility for the poor quality of Identity Thief, I have mixed feelings. McCarthy is clearly responsible for a bad performance, but on the other hand, the schtick she presents is clearly one of the few that audiences are comfortable seeing plus size women in. How many really successful, larger actresses can you think of that didn't resort to this kind of performance? I can only think of Kathy Bates. Cinema simply doesn't make roles for plus size women, and McCarthy is lucky to have been let into the club. So I don't blame her for taking what she can get and playing it in a way that audiences want to see.
I mean look at Nikki Blonsky, who was great in Hairspray. She's working in a New Jersey hair salon.

February 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJasmine

Volvagia...thank you for the information.

When I first saw Beast of the Southern Wild, back in the summer, I thought hands down Miss Wallis should win best actress. That was before all of the other performances came out, but really my initial reaction hasn't changed. Her performance was quite simply astonishing. If she won as Best Actress this year I would be thrilled. It's good to know that she will be in another film and thank you for your educating me.

I guess I should clarify the statement in my original comment. When I said she might not be up for the award again, I meant that at her age, few actors successfully survive and then have a thriving acting career. The two most recent children who won an Oscar while they were young: Anna Paquin vs.Tatum O'Neal. The former has transitioned to a successful career. The other not so much.

I am amazed at the talent this year and every year of young people like Miss Wallis. It pisses me off that most of the time these performances by children are overlooked at Oscar time. If they can deliver a performance, as Miss Wallis did, that makes any of their adult peers look less than perfect, then they should definitely be nominated, if not win the Oscar. The awards should be for best performances, not careers, etc. Last year was a great case in point. Why wasn't Thomas Horn nominated last year for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Asa Butterfield in Hugo or Alexandra King in The Descendants>?

It would be great if these young actors were nominated for their Oscar-worthy performances. I was thrilled that Miss Wallis was not overlooked this year (there a few young actors that were). If she doesn't win this year, then it would so uplifting if she does in the future. Her talent as an actor is instinctive and inherent. How can someone so young deliver a performance so remarkable, if not?

February 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark Gaulding

@Mark Gaulding

Joaquin is better than all of them. Not sure why he keeps getting overlooked.

February 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertr

@Jasmine

That was quite sad about Blonsky, but she now has a role on Smash.

February 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertr

Daniel Armour: as per your comment about Beasts of the Southern Wild. When I saw it the first time I was really viscerally upset by it.....sort of the way I felt when I watched Precious</>. I remember thinking the kid (Miss Wallis) was amazing, even brilliant, as was her father. When I watched it a second time, a little more seasoned, I thought she truly was the Best Actress this year.

I was struck by your comment 'great acting.' What is great acting, exactly? For me, it is about delivering an interpretation of a role that is so utterly devoid of artifice, self-consciousness, and most of all authentic. If that's the definition, then Miss Wallis more than delivered. Unlike Daniel Day Lewis, IMHO. Acting isn't creating a magic show. It is to make your audience utterly transcend their environment by something that isn't fantasy (unless your watching that kind of genre).

This discussion is all a bit rhetorical....not meant to be disrespectful. I would love to know, Daniel, what you think constitutes 'great acting.'

I'll shut up for the night. Will watch the Grammy awards, which for the most part I have no clue about. But I am trying.

February 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark Gaulding

tr:

You know I didn't see The Master. So you may be completely right. No doubt it was better than DDL in Lincoln? I don't know if I can even still see it before the awards here in Palm Springs CA.

I haven't seen the Best Actress nominee in Amour, yet. Nor, Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master> or Christopher Waltz ( Django Unchained>, both perennially loved when it comes to award nominations. Joaquin has been nominated three times. Why is he Joaquin didn't win for Walk the Line? He ironically lost the 2006 Best Actor award to Philip Seymour Howard. Is it the great Letterman thing?

I really would like to see The Master. As well as Django Unchained. Despite the fact the films subject matter turns me off in every way.

Before anyone responds to the previous, statement let me add a caveat. I see all sorts of movies, even when they don't appeal to me. I draw the line with solely-testosterone-driven or horror films. I just can't emotionally deal with them and I am not interested in paying someone to upset me that way. I'd rather pay someone to upset or move me emotionally.....I'm pretty much open to most films.

jr..........you are right. Mr. Phoenix is deserving. I haven't seen the performance. Until I do, maybe you are right!

February 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark Gaulding

Finally saw Silver Linings Playbook. I liked it well enough, but I'm not getting what feels like near universal acclaim. It is wonderfully acted, even if none of the roles seem like much of a stretch for the actors. Cooper was great and the obvious MVP for me. DeNiro could've done this in his sleep and I just kept wishing they'd given Weaver more/anything to do. Any success the movie has is earned by the actors, because I didn't think the story came together well at all. It felt like a series of good scenes that were thrown together, but didn't play like a cohesive piece. A big step down from The Fighter. I get the feeling O. Russell was trying to capture that almost organic feeling the latter film captured so beautifully, and while the actors were game again, the story just wasn't there this time.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVal

Saw Side Effects. Jude Law! Between this and Anna Karenina, I think I can finally forgive him for Alfie. And he's in the next Wes Anderson film!

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSVG

Mark Gaulding - I agree with some of the points you make, but "Lincoln was predictable" has to be the weakest criticism of the film I've ever heard.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

@Mark Gaulding
Oh, boy we are going to have to disagree about Thomas Horn in that movie. He won Critic's Choice for Best Newcomer anyway which is enough praise about that performance. And although I liked Alexandra King, Shailene Woodley was the best part of The Descendants and should have gotten nominated.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

And the lady next to Chastain mouthed "this is bullshit" lol.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDana

I also finally saw "Silver Linings Playbook" and came to similar conclusions as joel6 and Val, though I understand how it has become a fan favorite. I do wonder how much of this film's awards success can be attributed to timing. Had it been released last summer, for instance, would it have been nominated for that many Academy Awards? I can't imagine that it could have sustained that much good will over the course of several months.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

What Roark said. Which is part of the reason why Silver Linings has gotten such a great response. A lot of the reviews compare it to the great screwball comedies, and while that might be reaching, I think it shows how desperate people (or, at least, critics) are for great comedies.

We were going a little stir-crazy by Saturday afternoon having been holed up in the house all day Friday because of the blizzard, so we drove around town a bit, past the movie theater and looked to see if anything was playing soon. Lo and behold, Identity Thief was starting in fifteen minutes, so we saw it. It's a perfect "going stir-crazy due to being stranded by a blizzard" film - meaning it's completely mindless. Melissa McCarthy is GOLD, but the film is not. But still, I laughed just enough to make it worth it.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

@Mark Gaulding: I would have said that great acting is giving your character a multitude of dimensions but given some of the performances I've loved this year and in the last few years, I would say that embodying the character and making them believable is a key ingredient to great acting. Wallis certainly embodies her role but I just didn't love the performance overall. I'm someone that gets more out of certain films with multiple viewings, though, so - like I said in my original post - that could be the case with her performance. We'll see...

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Armour

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