Melissa McCarthy is getting the last laugh. Just days after The New York Observer's film critic Rex Reed trashed the comedy Identity Thief -- and cruelly criticized McCarthy's plus-size figure -- the movie debuted in first place with an estimated $36.6 million.
Identity Thief, which also stars Jason Bateman, had the fifth-biggest opening ever for a non-sequel R-rated comedy. Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer's Warm Bodies fell one spot to second place with $11.5 million, besting Channing Tatum and Rooney Mara's Side Effects (No. 3, $10 million), Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence's Silver Linings Playbook (No. 4, $10 Million) and Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton's Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (No. 5, $5.8 million).
Universal Pictures predicts Identity Thief could have made at least $40 million had it not been for the blizzard that hit the Northeast on Friday, Feb. 8. Even so, debuting in first place is further proof that McCarthy, 42, is a force to be reckoned with.
In Reed's scathing review, he called the actress "cacophonous" and "tractor-sized" -- "a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success." He also referred to her character in the "chunk of junk" flick as Bateman's "female hippo" and a "screeching, humongous creep."
Emmy winner McCarthy has been open about her struggle to lose weight and accept her curvier shape. "I don't really know why I'm not thinner than I am. I don't really drink soda, I don't have a sweet tooth, and we eat healthfully at home," the Mike & Molly sitcom actress -- who has two young daughters with actor husband Ben Falcone -- told Good Housekeeping in November 2012. "Sometimes I wish I were just magically a size 6 and I never had to give it a single thought. But I am weirdly healthy, so I don't beat myself up about it -- it wouldn't help, and I don't want to pass that on to my girls."
McCarthy added, "You just have to say, 'It's pretty damn good. I am right here at the moment and I'm okay with it,'" she said of her body image. "I've got other things to think about."
Fellow film critic Richard Roeper jumped to McCarthy's defense in the wake of Reed's cruel critique of her talent and physique. "It's fair to comment on any actor's appearance if it's relevant to the character the actor is playing, the performance, and how that actor's physical traits add to or detract from the performance," Roeper told Us Weekly exclusively. "But this just smacks of mean-spirited name-calling in lieu of genuine criticism."
Roeper added, "I couldn't disagree more with Reed's assertion [that] McCarthy is a gimmick comedian who relies on her weight for laughs. She's a gifted performer who happens to look like much of America. So what? The same could be said of Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel, and a hundred other male 'everyman' actors."
Filmmaker Paul Feig, who directed McCarthy in Bridesmaids, stood up for the star via Twitter Feb. 8. "For his catty and school bully name-calling of the supremely talented Melissa McCarthy," he wrote, "I cordially invite Mr. Rex Reed to go f-ck himself."