Melissa McCarthy

REVIEW: The Kitchen (2019)

When their gangster husbands are sent to prison, their wives continue to operate their rackets and under their hand the business thrives.

The production design, hair and costuming firmly places The Kitchen in the time it’s set; late 1970s Hell Kitchen, New York. The violence is often bloody and shocking, and events seem to happen very quickly, there are a few montages complimented by an iconic song from the era. It would’ve been nice if some plot points could’ve had more time to evolve but on the whole the twists and turns work.

The three leads in The Kitchen are all great and while these characters are (for the most part) all working towards the same goal, they each have their own take on the situation and different strengths and weaknesses. Kathy (Melissa McCarthy) is a stay at home mother and is the one with the family connections to the Irish Mob. She’s the most level-headed but also the most compassionate which can lead to her downfall. Ruby (Tiffany Haddish) has always felt like the outsider and never accepted by the family, leading her to want more money and power than the family could ever dream of. Claire (Elisabeth Moss) has been beaten by her husband and refuses to be the victim anymore.

The support network these three women have for one another is wonderful, but that doesn’t mean they always see eye on how to run this business. The Kitchen does a great job at handling the core theme of “women in a man’s world” and how they can be as ruthless and as smart as their male counterparts, but also have different ideas on how to take on the same challenge.

McCarthy is the standout. When she has a dramatic role, she can sink her teeth into she can really bring out a brilliant performance. Kathy is often seen as the more mumsy of the three, but McCarthy does a great job at showing that inner steel and determination as she becomes more comfortable with the power and status she wields.

The Kitchen is engaging, surprising and has a trio of lead performances that really pull you into the story. It’s great to see a gangster movie with the women at front and centre. 4/5.

REVIEW: Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

When author Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) falls on hard times as her books aren’t selling, she turns to forging letters from famous dead authors, poets and playwrights in order to make a living.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a witty and entertaining heist film that has a lot more going on than one might think. While it’s certainly a small-scale heist film, behind the crime Lee is committing, is a story of loneliness. Lee is grouchy and often nasty, and she much prefers to spend time with her cat than with people. Her reclusive and curt nature doesn’t make her popular with her agent (a brilliantly scathing Jane Curtin) nor make her well-known enough to have people want to buy her books.

Melissa McCarthy gives a great performance in a more serious role. Her sensitive take on Lee’s hostilities makes her more than an unlikeable cat lady, instead being someone who has layers and is afraid of getting hurt. Richard E. Grant almost steals the show though as street smart charmer Jack Hock. He helps Lee fence her forgeries and his friendship comes along when she needs it the most. Their chemistry is wonderful as both Jack and Lee were gay, they appear to have a unique understanding of one another. In many ways they are complete opposites but for the most part they work together, their interactions are certainly very funny.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a darkly witty little crime film. The script and direction make you like an unlikable character from almost the very beginning and the performances are brilliant. 4/5.

REVIEW: Ghostbusters (2016)

ghostbusters posterWhen ghosts start appearing in Manhattan, physicist Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig), paranormal engineer Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and subway worker and municipal historian Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) unite to try and stop them.

I’m sure there are many comparisons to be made with the original 1984 Ghostbusters but as I have only ever seen that film once about a year ago and I didn’t like it that much and it wasn’t particularly memorable – you won’t find any original vs reboot comparisons here.

Ghostbusters is a lot of fun. It’s full of jokes and zingy one-liners, I laughed out loud multiple times and when I wasn’t laughing I had a big grin on my face because I was enjoying it so much. There’s some jump scares and the first ghost encounter would have probably scared me a lot if I saw it as a kid. Then there’s the action sequences, they are vibrant and a lot of fun, each Ghostbuster gets her own hero-moment and it’s just great to see.

The cast really is wonderful. All four women are smart and capable in different ways and you really feel like they all like each other and become good friends over the course of the film. Wiig and McCarthy continue to have great chemistry and Leslie Jones brings a lot to a character that could be pretty one-dimensional. McKinnon’s Holtzmann is a stand-out as she’s so weird and funny but she owns that and steals just about every scene she’s in. Then there’s Chris Hemsworth as the receptionist Kevin, he’s so dumb and a lot of the laughs are down to him and his interactions with the Ghostbusters.

Ghostbusters is so much fun! It’s got a lot of laugh out loud moments but at its core are these four awesome women who are smart and capable and I want to see more films about kickass, awesome women. Yes, Ghostbusters might be a little slow to find its feet and there could be more battles with ghosts sprinkled throughout the film (I love a good montage) but really it’s a great action-comedy movie that is fun for all ages and genders. 4/5.