Melissa McCarthy received a surprise Oscar nomination for her over-the-top comedic performance in 2011’s “Bridesmaids”. Since then, her status as one of Hollywood’s top funny ladies has been taken quite seriously, with roles in hits such as “Identity Thief” and “The Heat”, as well as her starring role on the CBS sitcom “Mike & Molly”.
With her latest comedy, “Tammy”, McCarthy enlisted real-life husband Ben Falcone to assist her in writing the script, as well as direct the film. The results are a slightly better film than last year’s “The Heat”. But “Tammy” is still underwhelming, as it often strives for comedy gold, but never quite gets there.
Promoting “Tammy” on talk shows, McCarthy has described her title character as someone who rarely thinks before she speaks or acts – very similar to characters she plays in most of her movies: bold, loud, crude independent women. And you do root for Tammy to figure out the next chapter of her life after she gets fired from her job at Fast Food restaurant, Topper Jack’s, and then returns home and discovers her husband is having an affair.
Tammy decides to take a road-trip to Niagara Falls with her wacky grandmother, played by Susan Sarandon (who knows a thing or two about car rides, thanks to 1991’s “Thelma & Louise”). But along the way, these two stumble across a few small towns and get themselves into some unpredictable situations.
You’d expect, with McCarthy and Sarandon’s comedic talents, that scenes such as a jet-ski accident, a jail stint, and robbing another Topper Jack’s would be laugh-out-loud funny, but they simply fall flat. McCarthy does her best to create a genuinely likeable character, and the potential was there. But the screenplay simply doesn’t provide the pair with enough clever material. Having someone other than McCarthy and Falcone in charge of this production likely would have helped. It’s tough to overrule the writer and director for the sake of the film when you and your husband are the writers and he’s the director. And Sarandon, who in real life could actually play McCarthy’s mother, not grandmother, only gets a few shining moments.
The star-studded supporting cast of mostly respected actors in bit roles includes Kathy Bates, Toni Collette, Sandra Oh (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Gary Cole, Nat Faxon (“The Way, Way Back”) and Dan Aykroyd and Allison Janney as Tammy’s parents. It feels as if they all likely wanted to be part of the film to work with McCarthy, but there’s no depth in any of the characters. Mark Duplass (“Your Sister’s Sister”) does put an authentic spin on the typical “I can look past your faults” character as Tammy’s new love interest.
“Tammy” is rated R for consistent bad language and some adult references and is appropriate for teens and up. It isn’t a complete failure, but fans of McCarthy deserve much better.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Tammy” gets a disappointing C.