Melissa McCarthy has carved herself quite the lucrative niche in recent years, playing the loud, brash character who will say literally anything to get a laugh.
Her latest comedy vehicle The Boss hits UK screens next week, with the trailer promising the pretty ridiculous story of an incredibly wealthy celebrity who ends up in prison, and upon release goes to sell cookies with the Girl Scouts. So, while it doesn’t appear to be 2016’s most groundbreaking comedy, it does need to be remembered that McCarthy has had a meteoric rise to fame in the last 10 years. After bit parts in big TV shows, McCarthy landed the lead role in US sitcom Mike & Molly. Then, in 2011, came Bridesmaids.
Produced by gross-out comedy genius Judd Apatow, Bridesmaids features an almost all-female cast discussing sex and bodily functions in exactly the same way that all the boys had being doing in the likes of Superbad and The 40-Year-Old Virgin. It’s crass and hilarious, but most of all, it’s the perfect coming-of-age film for single women in their thirties.
Heading up the cast is the ever-sublime Kristen Wiig as Annie, a woman with a failed business and a miserable love life. To top it all off, her best friend is getting married and moving on with her life. Supporting Wiig is a strong female cast, all of whom are the bridesmaids of best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph). Rose Byrne in particular shines as the annoying and shallow Helen.
But in almost every scene that her character appears in, it’s Melissa McCarthy as Megan that gets the biggest laughs. From her first scene where she recounts the story of falling off a cruise ship and meeting a dolphin, to the unforgettable food poisoning scene (“It’s coming out of me like lava!”), each of her lines hit the mark every time. Her character could’ve easily been a target for childish weight jokes, but instead, she is the strongest of any of the women, garnering an odd kind of respect from each of them.
Her confidence and self-assurance are the defining elements of Megan, who never shies away from saying exactly what is on her mind at any given moment. That includes suggesting ‘Female Fight Club’ as one of the activities for the hen party. But her greatest and funniest character trait, which McCarthy has employed in many of her recent films, is her slightly overwhelming sexuality. Megan doesn’t dress provocatively or attempt to talk seductively to men, instead she just fully believes that she could sleep with any man she happens to meet. With lines like “I’m going to climb him like a tree,” how could anyone resist? But in a nice, albeit disturbing way, she does end up with the man she fervently pursues. Her character has far more self-esteem than any of the other women, becoming a backbone for Wiig’s Annie who falls into a pit of self-doubt and misery which she’s brought almost entirely upon herself.
It’s difficult to imagine anyone else playing the role of Megan, and also what the film would have been like without McCarthy. The sense of anarchy she brings to each scene helped steer Bridesmaids off the path of middle-of-the-road “chick-flick” comedy. What The Boss will bring to audiences, who knows? – but it’s certain that without Bridesmaids, Hollywood would be without one of its most memorable leading ladies.