Melissa McCarthy hasn’t had a movie in theatres since Ghostbusters two years ago, but it’s not like she’s been taking a break.
She’s been hard at work preparing multiple projects with her husband, Ben Falcone (not to mention her side gig parodying Sean Spicer on Saturday Night Live). Two of their films hit theatres this summer. One is about a woman attending college with her daughter and the other has a scene in which McCarthy’s character does drugs with a hoard of degenerate puppets.
Both Life of the Party (out now in the UAE) and The Happytime Murders (August 17 in the US) are produced by McCarthy and Falcone’s company, On the Day, which they formed just over five years ago, making movies like Tammy and The Boss, both of which McCarthy starred in and Falcone directed, and the television series Nobodies. The endeavour allows them to have more control in choosing what they spend their time on. It also allows them to spend time together, especially in the scriptwriting stage.
“Melissa and I have been sort of busy lately, and it’s actually a great chance for us to sit together in a room and try to make each other laugh,” Falcone said. “I always say I’m sort of the boring structure guy and she’s the one who has all the fun stuff.”
Life of the Party is about a woman who is going through a divorce and trying to get her life back on track by getting her college degree (at the same college her daughter is attending). It was inspired by their parents, and both of their dads are in the movie.
Falcone, who directed, had the initial idea, remembering times when his father would join him at college parties. McCarthy took the pitch another way.
“I was like, ‘Oh, that would be great.’ And he’s like, ‘What?’ And I was like, ‘I’d love to go to school with Viv and Georgie,’” McCarthy said. “He’s like, ‘They don’t want you in college with them!’”
Neither has seen the finished product of The Happytime Murders, but distributor STX showed a trailer at the industry convention CinemaCon of the very R-rated comedy from director Brian Henson (son of Jim Henson). McCarthy plays a human detective who is teamed up with a puppet partner to investigate some grisly puppet murders. It makes Ted look tame.
Despite the success of their films, they keep their shop small — it’s basically McCarthy, Falcone and a production executive, and that’s the way they like it.
“Liz Banks, our friend, is a total mogul. (She and her husband) are like mighty power wielders. And that’s a cool way to go, too, and I love the stuff that they’re putting out there, but I like having a smaller amount of stuff that I have a handle on,” Falcone said. “I guess I’m a control freak.”
McCarthy, who says she’s learnt a lot from just sitting in the editing room, loves having the ability to pick and choose and craft roles that she finds interesting.
“I read so many things for so many years and I just thought, it’s just not that interesting to watch people be perfect,” she said. “I don’t really know perfect people. All the people I know and love are terribly weird and flawed, myself included, the friends we love are just a combination of ticks and eccentricities and all that stuff. I think for a long time we were having women play perfect — in the perfect job and a perfect-looking person and the perfect mother and I just keep thinking, ‘Oh, we’re so much more interesting. We can show all of our different sides and you can still root for them. In life those are the women we love so why not show it in movies?’”
This summer, Falcone and McCarthy will start shooting Super-Intelligence, an “apocalyptic end-of-days love story,” and they have a musical in the near future, too. Later this fall McCarthy will take a dramatic turn as literary forger Lee Israel in Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me?
And McCarthy hopes to get in the director’s seat herself — she directed episodes of her TV show “Mike & Molly” and a short Walmart ad that showed the night of the Oscars — but hasn’t found the right story for her feature debut.
“It’s intimidating but I would love to give myself that challenge,” she said. “It’s definitely something I think about. When I read stories it’s always in the back of my head.”