World news – Melissa McCarthy, please stop making bad films with your husband


The difference between a movie that works and a movie that doesn’t can be elusive. This is especially true for comedy films, where a split second shift in timing can make a joke bubble or explode. But take a look at Melissa McCarthy’s filmography and it’s easy to spot the common element in those who turn upside down: they’re the ones directed by her husband, Ben Falcone.

In dark times for Comedies – the genre’s share of the domestic box office has fallen by more than two-thirds in the past 20 years – McCarthy was a ray of hope. In the past decade, her films, including Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy, and Ghostbusters, have grossed more than a billion dollars worldwide, and have done so without the costly reliance on pre-sold intellectual property, which is now the most big-ticket, with the exception of the last one – Hollywood productions supported. She is, to use a word that is less and less relevant in a climate where franchise is the only currency, a star, and she has harnessed the power that comes with that title and has used half a dozen since 2014 Films produced including five directed by Falcone. The problem is, these films, if not too specific, are lousy. That’s not to say he’s exactly unsuccessful: Tammy, Life of the Party, and The Boss all made between $ 50 million and $ 85 million in domestic box office, enough to repay their modest budgets. But McCarthy is capable of knocking it out of the park, and these are loners and doppelgangers at best – that is, if they’re not excruciating dropouts.

Two new McCarthy-Falcone connections have been on in the past few months arrived on our screens: Superintelligence, which debuted on HBO Max on Thanksgiving, and Thunder Force, which is now available on Netflix. The former was once slated for a Christmas theatrical release, a slot that matched McCarthy’s star status, but even before the pandemic closed theaters, it was downgraded to a streaming release, and while HBO Max doesn’t release numbers for individual films, it was recently reported by Variety and analytics firm TVision suggest that Superintelligence was a bombshell even on that platform, with less than a quarter of the audience on Wonder Woman 1984. Netflix is ​​even more of a black box than HBO Max, so we probably never will a clear sense of whether Thunder Force is a hit, a flop, or somewhere in between, but the film itself is a dud, an action comedy directed by someone who has neither an eye for action nor comedy / p> You would probably assume that the problem with the McCarthy and Falcone films is that they are vanity projects, but it is exactly that it not. Even these mostly bad movies are best when McCarthy is on the big screen and her amazing comic book talents are allowed to go wild. That goes for the subplot in Thunder Force, in which her genetically engineered superhero begins a no-sequencing romance with Jason Bateman’s evil mutant who happens to have crab claws for his hands, or the exchange in The Boss when McCarthy’s high-profile businesswoman advises the former Assistant Kristen Bell, whose bra is about to be worn for a date, and the two aggressively grope their breasts. There is a crazy, unpredictable energy to these scenes that emanates from a comic book actor who has the freedom and confidence to try things out on set – the environment ideally suited to the man she has been married to for nearly 16 years seems to be. But it’s also the kind of relationship she had with Paul Feig, who directed the four films that put McCarthy into the billion dollar class, and did so without everything else in the film falling apart.

If When watching Thunder Force, it is confusing to remember that this is Falcone’s fifth film as a director. There’s a convenience store fight that’s so inappropriately staged that I had to watch it three times to decipher what was happening and run gags that aren’t funny the first time and get worse with each repetition. But if there’s one moment that shows how bad Thunder Force is, it’s the bus throw. Here’s the setup: After a life of mediocrity, McCarthy’s character is accidentally injected with a serum that gives her superpower, and she’s fixated on the idea that she can use her newfound powers to throw a city bus at fleeing evildoers. Her former childhood friend Octavia Spencer, now a billionaire biotech genius who developed the super serum, points out on multiple occasions that dumping that bus would be a very, very bad idea. She developed the serum to fight the superhuman sociopaths called malefactors who have taken over the world so McCarthy’s idiosyncratic bruise doesn’t casually throw about 10 tons of steel. Of course, there is a moment when a supervillain quickly escapes through a crowded city street and McCarthy takes advantage of her moment. She ignores Spencer’s persistent noises, orders everyone to get off the next bus, lifts it like an Olympic putter, and lets it fly into the distance. It’s a perfect setup, right in McCarthy’s comedic wheelhouse, and you can probably imagine how that pays off in your head, how cheerful her face is as the bus slowly turns into embarrassed horror as it becomes clear it isn’t his Finding Traces will cringe as it picks out a beloved landmark while the supervillain spins off with a grin. Instead, we only get a non-binding middle shot of McCarthy, who looks vaguely apologetic, and a blurred shot of the bus stuck in a public fountain in the background of the next scene. It’s like stepping on a roller coaster and not hitting a dizzying fall, but finding that the ride just flattens out and rolls forward sluggishly.

There are similar inexplicable flaws in the entire McCarthy-Falcone oeuvre, such as in the scene in The Boss where her character, a business tycoon belittled by her own hubris, falls down a flight of stairs and the film skips the moment she finds herself realizing that she is about to fall: it jumps from her upright position Standing by the body of a stunt woman halfway up the stairs. This kind of omission in the amateur lesson would be hard to forgive in a first feature, let alone in a fifth. Given that McCarthy produced and co-wrote every film they made together, it’s hard to know how much guilt lies at Falcone’s feet alone. (On her New York Times profile on McCarthy, Taffy Brodesser-Akner discussed her films as if they were joint projects.) But at least a director should make sure that a scene has all of the settings necessary to make it work, and he does it still doesn’t.

In other instances, it’s more likely that the informal scripts and lazy iterations that affect the duo’s projects share the blame. As diverse as their attitudes and McCarthy’s characters (the middle-aged housewife from Life of the Party, the ineffective left-wing crusader of super-intelligence), each of them tends to get pop songs out in the blink of an eye, whether it’s a « One Week. » « by Barenaked Ladies or » Kiss From a Rose « by Seal. Actors return from one movie to the next – both Bobby Cannavale and Octavia Spencer appear in Superintelligence and Thunder Force – in ways that feel less like the two of them building a public company, but more like they are just doing it call the first person they can think of. It would be one thing if all of this was done to give McCarthy a chance to shine, especially in an industry that isn’t much use to women in their fifties. But while the movies get her busy, from vicious street fights to rapping « All I Do Is Win » on stage with T-Pain, don’t they stretch her like a movie like Can You Ever Forgive Me? does. Even if you do it vigorously, going through the moves is just that.

Perhaps after finding a mooring on Netflix, McCarthy will follow the example of Adam Sandler with her friends making largely memorable comedies more engaging for a core audience Fans and shows up every couple of years to create the Uncut Gems equivalent. And hey, if you could get away with it, you probably would too. But it’s hard to believe it’s barely two years since McCarthy was nominated for Best Actress at the Oscars, and this week she’s in a movie mimicking Urkel from the sitcom Family Matters. She may feel more comfortable making films with Falcone, but only when a filmmaker pushes her out of her comfort zone does she rise.

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