Comedic actress Melissa McCarthy’s new movie “Identity Thief” earned the biggest ever film opening so far this year when it raked in more than $36 million at the box office.
That may be ironic given that the movie was roundly panned by veteran film critic Rex Reed. Not only was Reed critical of the movie, he also went after McCarthy for her weight.
In his Feb. 5 review in The New York Observer, Reed delivered insult after insult about the overweight actress, referring to her as “tractor-sized,” “a humongous creep” and a “female hippo.”
But the scathing critique is earning Reed a strong backlash from the industry, as some of Hollywood’s biggest stars are rushing to McCarthy’s defense.
“Turns out, Rex Reed didn’t die sad and alone 10 years ago. Nope. He’s alive and starving for attention, so lets give him some,” “Modern Family” star Eric Stonestreet, who also appears in “Identity Thief,” wrote Friday on Twitter.
And comedienne Roseanne Barr, who once famously used her weight as comic relief, added her voice to McCarthy’s supporters, tweeting: “you are a great comedian-your body is your instrument-you play it expertly.”
While neither Reed nor McCarthy would comment to ABC News, McCarthy has been open about her weight struggles.
In November she told CNN anchor Anderson Cooper that she was never going to be a stick-thin starlet.
“I think two kids and 41, it just … there’s so many other things to worry about,” she told Cooper. “I think the kids are healthy, I’ve got a great husband and I go to work every day and do what I want. I’ll keep working on the other. I just can’t put any time to worrying about it.”
The actress is also helping other women embrace their curves. She recently told Larry King that she was launching her own plus-size clothing line.
McCarthy’s real-woman appeal has made her one of the most successful actresses in Hollywood. Her net worth is reportedly an estimated $8 million, but that didn’t stop Reed from also billing her “a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success.”
Matthew Belloni, the executive director for The Hollywood Reporter, called the attack “particularly mean-spirited and personal.
“Reviewers have fair license to go after the film, after the performances, but this one seemed to go a step further,” Belloni added. “Ninety percent of actresses are extremely skinny and when you someone who’s a little more overweight who’s successful it’s going to draw this type of attention just because it’s not normal … .”
McCarthy has been a fixture in Hollywood since 2000, when she had a leading role in the popular TV series “Gilmore Girls.”
She earned an Academy Award nomination for her turn in the blockbuster hit, “Bridesmaids,” and won an Emmy award as outstanding actress for her role in the TV comedy “Mike and Molly.”