From the film’s official synopsis: “Tammy (McCarthy) is having a bad day. She’s totaled her clunker car, gotten fired from her thankless job at a greasy burger joint, and instead of finding comfort at home, finds her husband getting comfortable with the neighbor in her own house.
It’s time to take her boom box and book it. The bad news is she’s broke and without wheels. The worse news is her grandma, Pearl (Sarandon), is her only option—with a car, cash, and an itch to see Niagara Falls. Not exactly the escape Tammy had in mind. But on the road, with Pearl riding shotgun, it may be just what Tammy needs.”
You know McCarthy’s MO by now… White trash-style hijinks and absurdity. “Tammy” is really no different. I feel like I can’t necessarily say that she plays the same character in every movie, but she comes pretty close. The interesting thing about this film though is that there are small moment’s where she shows some emotional range and I think that if she had an opportunity to expand on that we might see her turn a pretty powerful performance someday.
It was weird seeing Susan Sarandon as a grandmother. I mean, she is 67 in real life, but I’ve honestly never thought of her as a grandma. She does a great job at the role though. Again, like McCarthy, she has moments where she gets to show some real emotion, but we mostly just see her playing the alcoholic Abbott to McCarthy’s careless Costello.
There were quite a few very talented people in the film who felt very underused (Toni Collette and Mark Duplass come to mind), but one of the funniest parts of the whole film were the 5 minutes at the end where we meet Tammy’s dad, played by Dan Aykroyd. His few lines and scenes were by far what I laughed hardest at.
This is director Ben Falcone’s film directorial debut. He also just happens to be Melissa McCarthy’s husband (and he features in the film at Tammy’s sweaty boss at her “greasy burger joint” job). You’d think that the team-up is some kind of ploy for their personal financial gain (hey man, business is business) but really, I think it was their relationship that allowed her those few glimmers of real sincerity in her performance. I’d love to see them two of them take on an intimate, independent romantic-comedy together. As far as someone’s first outing as a director, there’ve been worse efforts. The movie feels a little cluttered and I’d chance to guess that it’s due to his inexperience. However, inexperience doesn’t immediately suggest a lack of talent. Falcone pulls some really good moments out of his performers and if given something a little smaller to try his hand at, I think he’ll really prove what he’s capable of as a director.
The film opens with Tammy encountering some bad luck by hitting a deer on the way to work, which subsequently causes her to be late and get fired. She then comes home to find her husband having a romantic dinner with their neighbor. Tammy heads to her parents house and begs her mom to let her take her car to get out their small town. When her mom refuses, Tammy’s grandma offers to let her use her car AND fund the trip… as long as she takes her along. The rest of the film follows their misadventures and Tammy’s eye-opening discoveries of what life really is.
The film was partly produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay for their Gary Sanchez film production company, which seems to be where the film gets it’s more outrageous moments. I also think this kind of hurt the movie in a way. Those intimate moments I keep mentioning get drowned by the forced outlandish jokes. There’s a moment where Tammy is talking to the man she likes, Bobby, outside of the hotel room that her grandma and his father spent the night in together, and it just felt very natural and sincere. Tammy briefly stops being a mouthy ignoramus and lets her guard down a little, and you can really sense the bright-eyed-school-girl-crush she has. I felt like this is what I wanted more of, not more “oh no, grandma’s banging a stranger in the back of our car and we just have to wait around til they’re done” jokes.
There is a slow acceptance of reality that sets in throughout the film, and (god help me, I never thought I’d say this) Kathy Bates’ role is a big part of that. She’s a “straight-shooter”, if you will, and knows how to say what needs to be said, without being cruel, and not just what people want to hear.
While the film is kind of messy and not properly focused, it has a good heart. Had they zeroed in a couple of the story-lines and left others out, I would have enjoyed the movie better. For example, I love Mark Duplass but I totally could have seen them going without the love-interest dynamic. It didn’t feel all that well-developed anyway. Seeing Tammy’s adult-relationship with her grandmother evolve while she deals with her husband leaving her could have been the right amount of character conflict for this picture, as far as I’m concerned.
Remember a few years ago when Larry the Cable Guy wouldn’t stop being in movies? If Melissa McCarthy isn’t careful, I worry that she could end up with the same fate… doing heartburn commercials and latching onto the success of voicing a terribly annoying cartoon character.
If you need to go to the movies RIGHT NOW and watch a comedy, watch 22 Jump Street. It’s just a more consistency funny film and it knows exactly what it aims to achieve. Tammy is probably worth renting at Redbox in a few months.