With The Happytime Murders out this week and Melissa McCarthy’s previous release, Life of the Party, still managing to draw in crowds ready for a guaranteed laugh with the girls, it looks like her magical formula for comedy is yet to run dry.
Let’s face it. We all fell in love with Melissa McCarthy after her wonderful performance in Bridesmaids. Megan is in equal parts lovable as she is vile. A character that is painfully outspoken and strong minded, she confidently embraces her role in the group amongst her fellow bridesmaids. Even after that iconic food poisoning scene, Melissa McCarthy somehow managed to capture the hearts of the nation. It takes a special kind of talent to be able to comedically portray all of our worst nightmare: having explosive diarrhoea ruin a spotless bathroom during a dress fitting.
It is this niche type of humour that makes Melissa McCarthy so compelling to watch. Her comedy is not self-deprecating, nasty, or vicious, but instead a wonderful blend of grossness, slapstick jokes, and confident one-liners. Bridesmaids’ Megan is echoed in many of McCarthy’s other characters, such as Tammy, Shannon Mullins in The Heat, and Susan Cooper in Spy. In her ten years in the business, McCarthy has become to comedy films what Hugh Grant is to romantic films, and I, for one, can’t get enough.
In Paul Feig’s 2015 action comedy Spy, McCarthy reunites with fellow Bridesmaids actress Rose Byrne for a truly eclectic show. The film was very well received by critics and audiences alike, with an all-star cast including the likes of Jude Law and Jason Statham. Susan Cooper (McCarthy) is the hero behind the action, providing remote assistance to the handsome Bradley Fine (Jude Law). When Fine is killed on a mission, it is up to Susan Cooper to go undercover to stop a nuke falling into the wrong hands.
Susan Cooper works so well as a character. She transforms from an employee sat at a desk watching the action from afar, to managing to disarm a terrorist group albeit in a very unorthodox manner. The typical McCarthy grossness is used to great effect in this film. For example, after shooting a gunman in the head, she vomits and passes out. In a similar manner to Megan in Bridesmaids, audiences connect to a character that is relatable, off-the-wall, and unintentionally hilarious.
Of course, a silly laugh-out-loud comedy is always a good time. One may argue that McCarthy has become a staple in this genre, providing guaranteed entertainment in feature length films. But it is her ventures into television that secures McCarthy’s position as a figurehead of satirical comedy. Paired with the charming oddity that is Kate McKinnon, and the always hilarious Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy delivers a blinding performance in American sketch show Saturday Night Live.
Famous for political satire, SNL is certainly not short of material perfect for some good old fashioned mockery. Given the current climate in Washington, caricatures of Trump and his various aides have been exceedingly well received in shows like SNL. In one sketch, McCarthy returns to her roots as a stand-up comedian. She fully embodies the role of Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer. It is so wonderful because it is so accurate. From the mannerisms to the language used, McCarthy’s Spicer demonstrates a wholly entertaining form of comedy.
In recent years, McCarthy has helped carve through the ruthless exterior of Hollywood chick flicks. It is a world obsessed with the latest fashion, appearance, and body image. Unsurprisingly, Hollywood films have adopted these often harmful trends in popular culture. In chick flicks and high school dramas, audiences are taught to laugh at the ‘nerd’, or the girl with braces, or the boy with acne. Above all though, Hollywood has taught us that it is okay to laugh at the fat girl.
On the reverse of this, Melissa McCarthy uses her success as a platform for body positivity. Her characters define confidence, are often successful, but are mostly kind. It is refreshing to see a heroine that looks different to others in her world, and to have such high self-esteem. McCarthy has paved the way for characters such as Rebel Wilson’s Fat Amy from the Pitch Perfect films, who ironically named herself so “twig b****es don’t say it behind my back”. It is an excellent message to carry through such an accessible form of entertainment. Through her comedy, McCarthy has taught us that fat jokes just aren’t funny anymore.
After a steady rise to success, Melissa McCarthy’s on screen talent presents a world that is not only filled with laughter, but one that is more tolerant and forgiving. Her comedy encourages us all to embrace ourselves, warts and all.