Melissa McCarthy To Play Tinker Bell In Unknown Comedy Film, But Can We Please Avoid “Fat” Jokes?
When I was a little girl, my favorite Disney movie was, in fact, Peter Pan. At least, it was before Mulan came out in 1998. Of course, re-watching Peter Pan now makes me realize how racist ("What Made the Red Man Red?") and misogynist (um, almost everything about the treatment of Wendy in Neverland) it was, but my youthful fondness for the film that still leads my heart to race whenever I hear about things like NBC's upcoming special Peter Pan Live! Aside from the sociopathic child leader himself, my favorite character from the Disney film was Tinker Bell — so imagine my delight when Deadline revealed Melissa McCarthy would be playing Tinker Bell in an upcoming action-comedy film from Fox. Of course, as quickly as I screeched in excitement, I realized how much potential this has to go wrong.
In one memorable, early scene in the Disney movie, Peter Pan is quietly searching the Darlings' nursery for his shadow. As he does that, Tinker Bell lands on a mirror and begins admiring herself in it. I mean, let's just face it. The girl is ***flawless. However, she soon realizes that her hips are, apparently, larger than she'd like, because she measures them with her hands and frowns before being distracted by something else. From that, we learn that Tinker Bell is incredibly vain — and incredibly jealous, considering she spends the rest of the movie conspiring to kill Wendy for being Peter Pan's new favorite. But I digress.
I am absolutely thrilled that Fox will be distributing a film that gives us a Tinker Bell that doesn't have a Barbie doll body. McCarthy is refreshingly average size — but by Hollywood standards, she's considered "overweight." Much of the comedy throughout her career has been derived from her being curvier than her size 2 costars, such as in Bridesmaids or Mike & Molly or The Heat. Even in real life, when she attended P.S. ARTS Express Yourself — a charity event — the only thing the media seized upon was how much weight McCarthy had lost. They even somehow knew exactly how much. A charity event and that's all we could talk about? Really?
And that's what I'm afraid the comedy portion of the "action-comedy" film that McCarthy has been cast in will do. I'm afraid that she is playing an "overweight" Tinker Bell, a Tinker Bell who has "let herself go," a Tinker Bell who will be bringing the laughs with such sexist gags as being too heavy to fly anymore or unable to fit in the same places she used to. And, yes, I know that the Tinker Bell of the Disney movie did get stuck in a keyhole because her "hips were too big," but it's my sincere hope that they cast a curvy actress to portray the stick-thin fairy because we're entering a new era when talent is a bigger consideration over size when it comes to these roles. Not so we can make 1,0001 fat jokes.
Despite what the CGI film franchise Disney Fairies would have you believe, Tinker Bell is vicious. She never had a single line in the original Disney film, and yet she was one of the most hilarious parts — if not the most hilarious part. Admiring herself in a mirror when she was supposed to be searching for Peter Pan's shadow? Getting stuck in a keyhole trying to escape a drawer in time to yank Wendy away from giving Peter his first kiss? Flying too fast for the Darlings to follow in order to tell the Lost Boys to shoot the "Wendybird" out of the sky? The cheerful, casual way that she nods to Peter's accusations and then turns red and burns a hole in a leaf as she flies away, banished? Tinker Bell was the funniest little sociopath on the Disney block.
There are so many ways to derive comedy from all the little things that make up Tinker Bell, whether you're going for the old Disney version, the new Disney version, or the original book/play version. And McCarthy has more than proven through roles in films like Identity Thief or Bridesmaids that she has perfect comedic timing and the emotional depth to make us cry just as hard as she's making us laugh. Tinker Bell is a perfect role for her, so please, please, please don't take the lazy, offensive route into deriving comedy from the fact that she's not the same size as the Tinker Bell we remember. I'd even prefer 1,0001 short jokes — McCarthy is 5'2" and Tinker Bell is, what, five inches? — to another "fat girl" comedy.