Tammy

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UK Release Date 4th July 2014
Director Ben Falcone
Starring Melissa McCarthy
Runtime 96 Minutes
Certificate 15
Reviewer Si
Reviewed 9th July 2014

A few movies made me sad last year, Identity Thief was one of these movies. It made me sad for a number of reasons but the one that stood out above all the others was its complete waste of the undoubtedly talented Melissa McCarthy. I won’t dwell on that movie as I’ve already spent too much time thinking about it, my point is that McCarthy is overdue a decent role. And if anyone is going to give it to her, surely it will be Mr. McCarthy? Well….

Tammy tells the largely sorry tale of the none too bright Tammy (McCarthy), a fast food restaurant worker with a wreck of a car and apparently a wreck of a marriage. On returning home from work early after being fired for being late, Tammy discovers her husband enjoying a meal he cooked with the neighbour. Tammy deals with this as she deals with everything, she shouts a lot, flounces out and attempts to swipe her mother’s car (from the house two doors down the street) in order to flee town. Her mother is having none of it but her grandmother Pearl (Susan Sarandon), who lives in the same house, overhears the conversation and is soon packed and ready to flee too.

After some additional shouting, Tammy reluctantly agrees to the offer her grandmother puts on the table, that is, she has money and a car and Tammy has neither, and off they head on a road trip to nowhere in particular. That is, until grandma decides she finally wants to visit Niagara Falls. En route they get waylaid somewhere or other and grandma’s heavy drinking becomes an issue. When Tammy sticks up a fast food joint for bail money, Pearl is forced to call on old hippie friend Lenore (Kathy Bates) to dispose of the evidence and off they head to Lenore’s retreat for a lesbian fourth of July celebration. 

The trailer for Tammy promises a great deal of McCarthy prat falling, being abusive and generally being an amusing nuisance. The movie is a somewhat different experience. Which may or may not be a bad thing, depending on your view. Where the trailer promises a frenetic road movie filled with japes and capers, what we actually get is a more meandering, part road movie with the odd chuckle thrown in. Which unfortunately has the effect of neither being serious or deep enough to resonate and not having anywhere near enough laughs to be a proper comedy.

McCarthy pretty much is as McCarthy pretty much does. Her Tammy is a juvenile petulant sub-adult who when faced with anything remotely resembling a crisis, shouts her way out of it and throws whatever is nearest at whoever has upset her. It’s not clear how she ended up in the home surroundings which are so jarringly different from her personality, car and clothing so it passes with no emotion whatsoever that she has been cuckolded by the neighbour. Tammy tramples her way through the movie and when some kind of rehabilitation is available, in the form of nice but bland farmer Bobby (Mark Duplass - required to do little other than smile warmly occasionally), she inevitably snubs it and continues to fight with her grandmother.

McCarthy has to share some of the blame for this eyeball rolling character as she is co-screenwriter with her husband Ben Falcone (who also directs). Late in the movie Tammy, having breakfast with her grandmother, breaks down and explains why she has so much of an issue with her but by then it’s too late to really care why the pair don’t get on. More backstory for them early or gradually through the movie may have given us more of a chance to get to like Tammy and sympathise with her situation. As it is, you have to agree with Lenore when she lays into Tammy at the party.

Of the remainder of the cast, Susan Sarandon is in turns charming and mean as Pearl. One minute desperate for Tammy’s company, the next eagerly downing beers and shacking up with random cowboy (and Bobby’s father) Earl (Gary Cole). Kathy Bates doesn’t get much to do other than the ass kicking speech and Dan Aykroyd strolls in towards the end as Tammy’s pa, Don. It has to be said, it was nice to see the boys in the movie written like girls are in the majority of movies (that is, mostly there to look at) but I’m not really sure we should be encouraging either of those situations.

Tammy isn’t an awful movie, it just isn’t a very good movie. There are a few decent laughs (most of which have been telegraphed by the trailer) and McCarthy is good value - especially when sticking up a fast food joint with a bag on her head. It’s just that the movie can’t decide what it wants to be. In the end it’s nowhere near funny enough to sustain itself as a comedy and nowhere near interesting enough to win through as a drama. The hunt continues for a decent vehicle for McCarthy’s talents. On a complete side note, what is it with people and airbrushing posters of McCarthy to the point where she is almost unrecognisable? Check out the posters for both Identity Thief and Tammy and you’ll see what I mean. Note to Hollywood, stop it, it’s just weird.

Check out the trailer here.

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