Director: Ben Falcone
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Allison Janney, Gary Cole, Mark Duplass, Dan Aykroyd, Kathy Bates, Toni Collette, Nat Faxon
Release Date: July 2nd, 2014
Director Ben Falcone, information pills husband and sometimes-costar to actress Melissa McCarthy, is the filmmaker behind the new comedy Tammy and co-wrote the screenplay with his wife. The new comedy puts the focus strictly on McCarthy and her charismatic and energetic personality, allowing her to dominate every scene she’s in. This, after all, is a feature built for the Bridesmaids Oscar nominee who has launched a massively successful movie and television career since her wonderful supporting role on the dramedy Gilmore Girls.
The problem is that Tammy feels so dependant on McCarthy and her physical brand of humor that the script simply serves as a ham-handed effort to set her up in humorous situations to see what she can do with them. It’s as if the screenplay was written with the belief that McCarthy can make anything funny.
There’s much to love about McCarthy but movies like this only undermine her innate talent and abilities. Her, she plays the title character— a woman who hits a deer, loses her job and finds out that her husband has been unfaithful within a period of hours. She knows that her life is a mess and like a petulant child, she runs home to her mother (Allison Janney) and vows to run away. Her mother says that Tammy has done this multiple times before, returning back within moments of choosing to run away.
This time, Tammy says she is being honest and when her sly grandmother (Susan Sarandon) offers her $6700 if she can ride alongside her granddaughter, it feels like Tammy could be telling the truth this time. Both grandmother Pearl and Tammy are soon on their way out of town in this wannabe road trip.
What follows is an unpleasant ride for both the main characters and the audience itself. There’s a sex scene between two older individuals that’s played for laughs (at least, one hopes that the screenwriters were hoping for laughs instead of the groans it deserves). There’s a fast-food robbery scene where Tammy goes from being nervous about stealing from her previous employer to her suddenly becoming comfortable with the decision. There’s also a scene of a lesbian party where Kathy Bates and Sandra Oh appear out of nowhere to help Tammy and her grandmother cover up their unlawful behavior and teach her an important life lesson.
Nothing comes together here and none of the situations merit any laughter. The whole plot serves as a showcase for McCarthy to display her brand of humor but with such a lackluster script, there’s little here for her to work with. The cast is surprisingly solid for such a cinematic mistake but none of them manages to wring any humor out of the situation. Aside from Oscar winners Sarandon and Bates, other stars like Janney, Toni Collette, Gary Cole, Nat Faxon (an Oscar-winning screenwriter, no less) Sandra Oh and Mark Duplass deserve better material than this.
Despite the main character being written as a vulgarity-spouting, alcohol-drinking, and tantrum-loving fool, the screenplay does attempt to humanize her and the other characters along the way— hoping the audience will find some redemptive qualities here. There are some slow scenes showing her main vulnerabilities and Pearl accepting her flaws (including her alcoholism). These scenes do little to overshadow the rest of the experience where no foolish enterprise is too silly for Tammy to avoid.
One hopes that McCarthy finds the right material for her comedic abilities (as she had in films like Bridesmaids and The Heat) to be displayed properly but here as in Identity Thief, the script does her no favors .
Review by: John Hanlon