Tuesday 1 July 2014

Tammy review

Tammy (15/R, 97 mins)
Director: Ben Falcone
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

Since making a big impression (and landing an Oscar nomination) with Bridesmaids, Melissa McCarthy has firmly established herself as a leading comic talent.

Here with Tammy she gets a screenplay credit for the first time, co-writing with her husband Ben Falcone, who also makes his feature directing debut. Unfortunately they’ve come unstuck and aren’t able to deliver anything like the necessary hit rate of laughs required for a mainstream summer comedy.

The title character of Tammy sees McCarthy play a chaotic and dishevelled woman whom we first meet as she hits a deer with her car. It’s just the first of many scenes that make vain grasps for laughs that come from her shtick of going off on a semi-improvised rant that quickly descends into ill-disciplined mugging, leaving vast expanses of empty air where laughter goes to die.

McCarthy is a very talented comic actor, but she’s in danger of selling herself short if she continues in these kinds of roles. Her loudmouth and slobby routine has been the go-to since the unfunny Identity Thief, although it served her well in The Heat last year, helped by the balance with Sandra Bullock.

Tammy ends up getting fired from her job at a burger joint as an indirect result of the deer incident, although by the looks of it that dismissal had been coming for a while. She also discovers her husband is having an affair with a neighbour and so decides to leave town.

But with no car to make good her escape, she tries to borrow one from her mother (Allison Janney), who is well aware of her slippery nature. As it turns out, Tammy’s ailing grandmother, Pearl (Susan Sarandon, presumably supposed to be playing 80), also wants to get out of her mother’s house and Tammy needs a car, and so the pair of them set off together on what should be the start of an uproarious road trip, but which doesn’t seem to have any destination or purpose in mind.

It’s just an aimless journey, taking in scrapes and shenanigans along the way, all of it flat and meandering, thanks to deeply unappealing characters and pratfalls that really don’t work and. Along the way, Pearl tries to persuade Tammy to try to change her ways, to find some direction in her life, but this is abruptly abandoned in favour of Pearl getting into drunken mishaps.

It’s only when Tammy meets Bobby (Mark Duplass) and his father, who takes a shine to Pearl, that she sees what a decent person is like. But even with that, character shifts seem sudden and unearned.

And though McCarthy and Sarandon do their best with their poorly conceived roles, they're barely able to raise a smile between them. A ridiculously starry cast fills out the rest of the film, though many of them are in very small roles; quite why Toni Collette and Dan Aykroyd show up for one scene apiece is a mystery.

That would simply be a side note if the film were only funnier. But the sad truth is that Tammy is so low on viable jokes that you begin to wonder if it maybe isn’t supposed to be a comedy at all.


  1. Yeah, the previews for this one look pretty bad. I hope McCarthy takes a different direction next time.

  2. Sarandon is 68, 12 years shy of 80. That's not a stretch for her to play an 80 yr old, sheesh.

  3. It's a sad time in history when society actually has people who enjoy this kind of worthless drivel.

    Even sadder that people actually act like this, and we make light of it and glorify it to a degree, which only encourages that kind of behavior.

    Things like this should not even see the light of day. Same with Identity Thief.