Since breaking out on the big screen with her scene-stealing appearance in the hit 2011 comedy Bridesmaids, Melissa McCarthy has earned a reputation as one of Hollywood’s most fearless — and gut-bustingly funny — stars, proving her willingness to endure even the most awkward situations and ego-bruising pratfalls in follow-up efforts like The Heat, Spy, and Ghostbusters. But McCarthy isn’t just here to make us laugh — she’s also proven her dramatic chops in more subdued fare like St. Vincent and Gilmore Girls, leading up to a Best Lead Actress Oscar nomination for Can You Ever Forgive Me?.
Now, we’re ranking all Melissa McCarthy movies by Tomatometer!
Critics Consensus: Melissa McCarthy remains as fiercely talented as ever, but her efforts aren't enough to prop up the baggy mess of inconsistent gags and tissue-thin writing that brings down The Boss.
Synopsis: Wealthy CEO Michelle Darnell (Melissa McCarthy) always gets her way, until she's busted for insider trading and sent to federal... [More]
Critics Consensus: Though The Nines doesn't solidify as well as writer/director John August would hope for, Ryan Reynolds's strong performance makes each of the film's intriguing segments worth watching.
Synopsis: Three actors (Ryan Reynolds, Hope Davis, Melissa McCarthy) tackle the principal roles in a trio of stories. In "The Prisoner,"... [More]
Critics Consensus:Ghostbusters does an impressive job of standing on its own as a freewheeling, marvelously cast supernatural comedy -- even if it can't help but pale somewhat in comparison with the classic original.
Synopsis: Paranormal researcher Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and physicist Erin Gilbert are trying to prove that ghosts exist in modern society.... [More]
Critics Consensus: Simultaneously broad and progressive, Spy offers further proof that Melissa McCarthy and writer-director Paul Feig bring out the best in one another -- and delivers scores of belly laughs along the way.
Synopsis: Despite having solid field training, CIA analyst Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) has spent her entire career as a desk jockey,... [More]
Ahead of the movie’s release, Apatow sat down with us to break down the mechanics and stories behind some of the funniest scenes he’s put on the screen – including an messy pool fight that’s getting the biggest laughs from audiences who’ve seen his newest film.
Melissa McCarthy is going back to college — at her less-than-thrilled daughter’s campus — in this weekend’s Life of the Party, adding another comedy to a filmography that already includes some of the biggest laugh-filled hits in recent memory. In honor of her latest outing, we decided to take the opportunity to look back on some of the brightest critical highlights in McCarthy’s career, while inviting you to rank your own favorites. It’s time for Total Recall!
Use the up and down arrows to rank the movies, or click here to see them ranked by Tomatometer!
This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and many of us will be celebrating the contributions and sacrifices our mothers have made to help us become who we are. But not all moms are created equal, and that’s especially true in cinema, because we know some real crappy movie moms out there — 24 to be exact — and they deserve no flowers, chocolates, or fancy dinners.
Three of this week’s new releases on home video were recognized by the Academy with Oscar nominations this year, so that’s already a pretty good start. The other three selections include two comedies that earned mixed reactions and one French import featuring some impressive performances, and those are followed by a number of notable rereleases. See below for the full list!
After the success of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings adaptations, it was impossible not to approach his interpretation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit with high anticipation. When Jackson announced that The Hobbit — a single volume much shorter than the LOTR saga — would also be stretched into a trilogy, however, some fans expressed a bit of concern, and Jackson’s use of the higher frame rate was also met with mixed reactions. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey chronicles the first portion of the tale of young Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), who is swept up in a journey alongside thirteen dwarves to recapture their kingdom, which has been usurped by a fearsome dragon named Smaug. With Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen, reprising his role from the Rings series) in tow, their quest leads them into perilous encounters with all sorts of creatures, including Gollum (Andy Serkis), whose fate is intimately tied to Bilbo’s. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was an “event movie,” if ever there was one, and while most critics found it both visually spectacular and evident of Jackson’s earnest affection, some also found that its pace was too deliberate and that it ultimately failed to meet the same standard for majesty and wonder that was set so high in Jackson’s previous trilogy. At 65% on the Tomatometer, this is probably still a trip worth taking.
Kathryn Bigelow took home a few Oscars for 2008’s The Hurt Locker, and she’s always had a knack for action flicks (“The FBI’s going to pay me to learn to surf?”), so it’s not entirely surprising that her gritty action/procedural about the search for Osama bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty, garnered five Oscar nods (including Best Picture and Best Actress) of its own. The story follows fledgling CIA operative Maya (Jessica Chastain) over the course of her entire career — which is dedicated to the capture of Osama bin Laden — as she collects intelligence, pursues leads, participates in classified interrogations, and ultimately oversees the mission to raid bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. There was some controversy over the kinds of access that Bigelow and writer Mark Boal (who also wrote The Hurt Locker) were allegedly given to classified records, as well as some grumbling over whether or not the film condoned torture, but the vast majority of critics simply saw a gripping, intelligently crafted film with an eye for detail. Certified Fresh at 93%, it was one of last year’s highest rated wide releases, so if you’re looking for a solid thriller, this one comes highly recommended.
Victor Hugo’s classic novel of redemption has been adapted several times before on both stage and screen, so it’s tempting to ask, “Is this a story worth revisiting again?” Most critics say yes, as did the Academy when it honored the film with eight Oscar nominations (it won three of them). Anyone who’s taken high school English will be familiar with the tale: Ex-convict Frenchman Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is released from prison in 1815 at the end of a 19-year sentence, and after benefiting from an act of kindness by a local bishop, he vows to live an honest life. Thus begins a sprawling historical narrative that follows several characters in Valjean’s life and culminates in the June Rebellion of France in 1832. Directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), Les Misérables received some attention for its actors singing live on set (some better than others), and though its story was familiar, its accomplished cast (including Best Supporting Actress winner Anne Hathaway) helped to elevate the film.
Judd Apatow’s been wearing his Producer hat more often lately, but he decided to jump back behind the camera again for This Is 40, the “sort-of sequel to Knocked Up,” as its poster so proudly proclaims. Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann (Apatow’s wife) reprise their roles from that previous film as upper-middle-class married couple Pete and Debbie, who both celebrate their 40th birthdays. In the week between Debbie’s actual birthday and Pete’s party, audiences bear witness to the conversations, the arguments, the intimate moments, the public meltdowns, and everything in between that the couple experience with each other and their children (played by Maude and Iris Apatow, they of Judd and Leslie’s loins). Unfortunately, there were a lot of critics who just didn’t find This Is 40 to be a winning effort; while many conceded the film successfully made light of some hard truths, most also felt the story was unfocused and muddled, and that it appealed to too specific an audience.
We last heard from French filmmaker Jacques Audiard back in 2010, when his acclaimed film A Prophet was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. Though his latest effort, Rust and Bone, failed to make it onto the Oscar list this year, it’s received a number of accolades, particularly for its acting. The film stars Matthias Schoenaerts as unemployed single father and aspiring kickboxer Alain, who moves to Antibes to live with his sister and look for work. After securing a job as a bouncer at a night club, Alain meets Stephanie (Marion Cotillard), a whale trainer at the local marine park who forms a close relationship with Alain when she suffers a tragic accident that results in the amputation of her lower legs. A handful of critics felt Rust and Bone‘s third act could have been a little stronger, but most agreed that both Schoenaerts and Cotillard put in powerful performances here, and that Audiard’s script succeeds in being sensitive without veering into melodrama. Certified Fresh at 81%, it’s an unconventional love story that may move you if you give it a chance.
Much to the chagrin of its producers, Bachelorette was just about to start shooting when Bridesmaids hit theaters back in 2011, thereby snatching up the “female answer to The Hangover” crown. When it finally opened back in September of last year, however, its makers decided to take a chance and release it on Video On Demand a month ahead of time. The story centers around a group of friends who reunite when one of them (Rebel Wilson) announces she’s getting married. What ensues is a series of mishaps as the bridesmaids (Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, and Isla Fisher) accidentally ruin the wedding dress and attempt to fix the situation, all after having insulted the bride and ingested copious amounts of booze and drugs. Critics were relatively split on Bachelorette; some thought it was funny and well-written by Leslye Headland (who also directed), but others felt the film’s leads were a bit too unlikeable to fully earn the sentimental ending. It might be a risk at 55%, but the cast — which includes Adam Scott, James Marsden, and Ann Dowd — may win you over.
Sometimes a relatively generic story can be redeemed by a confident central performance. Case in point: Jack Reacher, which critics say is a solid crime thriller that greatly benefits from Tom Cruise’s movie star charisma. Cruise stars as the title character, a former Army M.P. who’s called in to investigate a mass shooting, and soon discovers that he’s up against a dangerous foe. The pundits say Jack Reacher doesn’t lack for clichés, it’s a competent and tense piece of work, and Cruise is cool and compelling. (Check out this week’s 24 Frames for a pictorial overview of Cruise’s career.)
Judd Apatow‘s films frequently balance laughs and pathos with a deft hand, and while critics say This Is 40 is uneven, it’s thought-provoking and occasionally hilarious. Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann reprise their roles from Knocked Up, playing an affluent married couple dealing with the stresses of parenthood, financial insecurity, familial relations, and hard-to-break habits. The pundits say This Is 40 is overlong and sometimes aimless, but it’s buoyed by a terrific cast, a perceptive script, and some very funny moments.
Barbra Streisand is so rarely in films these days that her starring role in The Guilt Trip should be cause for excitement. Unfortunately, the critics say that while she and Seth Rogen share an easy chemistry, it’s largely wasted in a formulaic plot. Rogen stars as an inventor who plans to drive cross-country to pitch his newest product. He invites his overbearing mom along in an attempt to fix her up with an old boyfriend in San Francisco. The pundits say The Guilt Trip is undeniably sweet, and the leads are in fine form, but there are absolutely no surprises to be found in the script.
If those whimsical acrobats from Cirque Du Soleil aren’t making a tour stop in your town, Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away is a decent overview; critics say this 3D extravaganza offers thrilling evidence of the troupe’s skills, even if it doesn’t quite match the experience of seeing them live. Producer James Cameron and director Andrew Adamson utilize a minimal narrative — a girl visits a circus and is transported into Cirque Du Soleil’s dreamworld — as an excuse to create a best-of package of the company’s various stage shows. The pundits say Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away features plenty of eye-popping imagery, but it may not win over those who don’t already love the group.
With Monsters University hitting theaters next year, now is as good a time as any to revisit the world of Monsters, Inc. which is getting the rerelease treatment this week in glorious 3D. This tale of a pair of monsters who can’t seem to frighten one tenacious little girl is one of Pixar’s classics; like most of the studio’s output, it’s Certified Fresh.
It wasn’t too long ago that Megan Fox found herself at the dizzying center of the celebrity maelstrom. Through no particular fault of her own, she was teetering on the brink of media overexposure — the kind that comes from the usual perception of someone (and more often an actress) suddenly becoming too big, and too fast. Fox’s well-publicized (and rather humorous) feud with her Transformers director Michael Bay lead to her being dismissed from the third installment (quick: try and remember the name of her replacement), while her would-be star vehicle — the hopelessly misunderstood Jennifer’s Body — bombed with critics and audiences.
Yet Fox’s career is taking an arguably more interesting turn now that the white light of scrutiny has subsided: she’s got roles in Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up sequel This is 40 and Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator on the way, and this week stars as part of the ensemble cast of Jennifer Westfeldt’s Friends with Kids. In the well-received comedy-drama, Fox plays Mary Jane, the much-younger girlfriend of single-dad-with-a-twist Adam Scott, while getting to act alongside a cast that includes Westfeldt, Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph.
We got a chance to chat with Fox about the experience recently, as well as her thoughts on doing more of this kind of comedy in the future. Read on for that, but first, she reeled off her five favorite films. (And for being the first person to pick Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, well, we salute her.)
Well number one — and we have to count it as one or else it’s take up my whole list — is The Lord of the Rings. That’s pretty self-explanatory. I read the books when I was a kid and Peter Jackson just created this incredible world and environment that you get caught up in. It’s amazing.
Finally — and this is a series as well — the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies. The original three are just… [sings] “Go ninja, go ninja, go!” I just really loved those movies.
I do love the first one. How old were you when you saw them?
I was must have been really young — maybe five or six when I first saw them. And I think they still hold up. [Laughs] My husband laughs ’cause he thinks they’re so terrible, but I love the animatronic puppets. I just love the old school, the practical — you know, there’s no CG. I prefer the original Yoda in Star Wars as opposed to the CG Yoda. I love puppets and animatronics.
I’m with you. He needs to go and rewatch those films. That should be your mission.
To make him a believer? [Laughs] I’ll try.
Next, Fox chats about her role in this week’s Friends with Kids, why she enjoys playing comedy, and her experiences working with Judd Apatow and Sacha Baron Cohen.
Let’s talk a little about Friends with Kids. This is an ensemble comedy, and a different kind of movie for you. How’d you get involved?
Megan Fox: I think that there were a few names that Jen [director Jennifer Westfeldt] was considering to play Mary Jane, and she came over to my house to meet with me about it. We ended up talking for hours. I think it was maybe three hours, and we were talking about astrology and nothing that had anything to do with the movie — but we ended up getting along well so it sort of came about that way.
Adam Scott, Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph — you got a fine cast to work with there. What was that like?
Well they’re all… first of all I feel like they were such a safe choice to make, because the movie’s gonna be amazing because the talent in the movie is so high. There’s so many really strong comedians and fantastic actors in it, and I just wanted the opportunity to get to work with them. I sort of felt the pressure was off of me, you know — I didn’t have to carry it or do anything spectacular to move the story along. It wasn’t really about me, which I really appreciated. I really enjoyed the process of that. And they’re also all good friends, which I feel like is an easier environment to work in and walk in to — as opposed to this sort of awkward, get- to-know-you stage that people go through when the entire cast has not met one another and is not familiar with each other.
With that pressure off, did you get a taste for doing more of these kinds of smaller films?
Yeah, I love it. I also really enjoy being a part of an ensemble cast. It was fun to go to work every day, and that’s a nice feeling to have — to wake up and be happy that you’re going to work. It’s not always that way.
It sounds like you don’t miss being part of a huge juggernaut production.
Ah… I don’t. There is something about filming those types of movies that is so [laughs]… there’s a lot of adrenalin each day because you never know what’s gonna happen, and literally going to work was dangerous. It was like, “Well, who on the crew is gonna almost get blown up today?” Which was, you know, there’s something really fun in it — I mean, it’s psychotic, but there’s something really fun and kind of frighteningly enjoyable about doing that. But you can’t always do that. [Laughs] That’s sort of a once-in-a-lifetime, or you maybe do that a couple of times, but you can’t make a living out of doing that. It’ll kill you.
You’ve done comedy before: Jennifer’s Body, for example, which most people unfortunately didn’t get—
[Sighs] I know.
Is comedy something you’d like to pursue?
I mean, I’m much more comfortable doing comedy. It feels, I don’t know — it’s a better environment for me and I just enjoy it more. That’s not to say that I’ll be successful at doing it, but right now I at least have more fun on comedy sets.
There’s less chance of getting blown up.
What was it like working with Judd Apatow on This is 40?
I love him. He’s such a nice guy. I never saw him get angry or impatient; he’s just this big, happy kid who also happens to be a genius. The way he shoots is so open and so creative. There’s so much improv on his set, it’s crazy. I don’t know how he has the foresight to take all of that and make it into a movie, because he has endless hours of material of all of these comedians that just spend all day improv’ing in these scenes. I loved working with him; he’s one of my favorite people.
And you’re in The Dictator — that’s just a cameo?
Yeah, it’s just a cameo I shot one day. [Laughs] But, you know — it’s Sacha, so it’s gonna be really interesting. It pushes some boundaries. I had a good time. He was a gentleman, but he’s really hysterical and very funny. That was a good experience as well. I haven’t seen the movie yet but I think it’s probably going to be really funny.
Did he stay in character while he was filming?
Yeah he did. He was in character the whole time. He would come out of character for a few minutes, but he has this song — he has this sort of chanting — that he would do to get himself back into his Dictator character, which he would do right as we were rolling