Tammy (★½)

tammyWhatever happened to the Melissa McCarthy from Bridesmaids? You know, the Oscar nominated one who stole the show and tickled our funny bone…where has she gone? Is she ever coming back? With the misfire Tammy, McCarthy is trying to trade in her improvisational riffing for something more scripted and traditional, a decision that doesn’t suit her. She co-wrote the film with her husband Ben Falcone, who also directs here (and cameos as well at the beginning), and yet it feels like a movie that’s a poor fit for her talents. Pairing her with an awkwardly aged up Susan Sarandon doesn’t do either any favors either, leading to just an entire film that feels more than a bit off. The flick has a few fleetingly amusing moments, but so many actors and actresses are wasted on a road trip premise that just isn’t funny, so it’s hard to look at this as anything other than a real failure. It’s possible that the movie will be profitable (since McCarthy has proven to be a box office draw, though never on her own like here), but that doesn’t mean that it’s any good. Tammy is hardly the ideal way to celebrate our nation’s independence, that’s for sure…

Tammy (McCarthy) can’t catch a break. On the same day that she hits a deer with her car (not for the first time either), she also arrives late to her fast food restaurant job, which results in her being fired. When she returns home, she finds her husband Greg (Nat Faxon) with their neighbor Missi (Toni Collette). Tammy goes to her mother Deb (Allison Janney) for sympathy, but winds up with an offer from her grandmother Pearl (Sarandon) to get out of dodge instead. Thus begins an adventure that sees them come into possession of a jet ski, Tammy rob a fast food joint, and plenty of other random shenanigans, leading up to arriving at the home of their lesbian cousin Lenore (Kathy Bates). Along the way, Pearl hooks up with Earl (Gary Cole), leaving his son Bobby (Mark Duplass) to bond with Tammy. If it sounds a bit like a mess, well…it is. There are opportunities for funny things to happen, but they rarely, if ever, do. Mostly, it just clumsily flips back and forth between broad comedy and cloying drama. Falcone and McCarthy are taking their cues from certain Adam Sandler movies, and not the ones you wish either. At almost every turn, the path taken is one you’d rather the film not have chosen.

Tammy mo ieIn the right role, Melissa McCarthy is downright brilliant. Here though, she’s incredibly off-putting and frankly a bit of a bore. I’d argue that the entire cast is wasted to one degree or another, but somehow McCarthy wasted herself, considering she wrote the thing with her husband. She’s more abrasive than usual, less funny, and just not enjoyable to watch at all. Susan Sarandon fares a bit better, but her part is incredibly underwritten, except when they need a dramatic reveal. Sarandon gets to let loose a tad, but not in any way you haven’t seen before from any number of old lady characters on sitcoms. They both at least get decent screen time, something I can’t say for basically blink and you’ll miss it turns from Toni Collette and Allison Janney. Gary Cole and Mark Duplass seem bored, while Kathy Bates and Sandra Oh seem doubly so. Aside from the aforementioned Falcone and Faxon, the supporting cast also includes Dan Aykroyd, but no one is able to leave their mark whatsoever. So much talented underserved here. Sigh. They all deserve so much better.

Ben Falcone isn’t inept as a filmmaker, but he’s way too deferential to McCarthy, giving her free reign but not giving her anything interesting to do. Falcone doesn’t even let her just go riff on her own, though I’m sure McCarthy tried to work what she wanted into the script already. Whatever the case may be, it’s not well done. The movie is 90 some odd minutes, but it feels over two hours long, the pacing is so poorly done. I feel like the line for the bathroom during this press screening was longer than usual. There’s just so little interesting on display here in Tammy. I was bored almost to the point of being in pain, which is absurd for a broad comedy.

Overall, Tammy never crosses the line into atrocious territory, but it’s a road trip comedy that never bothers to be particularly funny, and that’s a fairly significant sin. Only those who are obsessive fans of McCarthy need to bother here, since the movie isn’t up to snuff. There are so many better options out there than this one, so just go see something else. Tammy isn’t a quality comedy, plain and simple. Move along, there’s nothing to see here…

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!