PHOTO BY NEW LINES CINEMA
Where is it playing?: Stadium 10
What's it rated?: R
What's it worth?: $6.00
Melissa McCarthy is Tammy, a hapless woman who totals her car, loses her job, and discovers her husband has been unfaithful, so she decides to take a road trip with her foul-mouthed grandmother Pearl (Susan Sarandon). (118 min.)
Without question, Melissa McCarthy’s best role to date was as Megan in Bridesmaids. Megan was strong, funny, wise, and she owned her physique. In other roles, McCarthy seems to let her physique be the source of comedy.
She was a mean, sad sack loser as Diana in Identity Thief, and I didn’t much like the film. She was again strong and confident as Mullins in The Heat, which I found funny and original.
Simply put, I prefer the strong and confident McCarthy character to the loser who’s the butt of jokes and whose literal butt is a source of bitter self-loathing. Unlike, say, male comics whose unkempt physique seemed to be socially acceptable to mock—and I’m thinking here of John Candy, Chris Farley, and even John Belushi—I don’t feel good about laughing at McCarthy’s size and shape.
So here we have Tammy: a fat, unhappy loser who can’t seem to get a break. Oh no, I thought, I’m going to hate this film. I’m happy to report, however (and despite the many poor reviews the film has garnered), that Tammy is not a terrible film. It’s no Bridesmaids, but McCarthy’s titular character gets a chance to redeem herself, and her redemption feels a lot more authentic than Diana’s in Identity Thief.
Don’t get me wrong: I didn’t love Tammy the film, but I don’t feel my time was wasted, I eventually invested in McCarthy’s character as well as Susan Sarandon’s Pearl and especially Kathy Bates’ Lenore, and I laughed and even choked up a little at the human moments between the main characters.
McCarthy co-wrote Tammy with her husband and director Ben Falcone, whom Bridesmaids fans will remember as Air Marshall Jon. I didn’t realize when I saw that film that they were married, but it certainly explains the obvious chemistry between the two actors. Tammy is Falcone’s directorial debut, and he and his wife are already in preproduction for the 2016 film Michelle Darnell, which so far has no synopsis or actor other than an announced McCarthy.
I’d say Falcone has done a fairly competent job with Tammy. The pacing feels brisk, there’s room for the laughs to come, and there are a few genuinely touching moments. He also gets great performances out of most actors, including Allison Janney as Tammy’s mom Deb, Nat Faxon as Tammy’s two-timing husband Greg, and Dan Aykroyd in a brief cameo as Tammy’s dad Don.
Unfortunately, Mark Duplass (Safety Not Guaranteed) as Tammy’s love interest Bobby doesn’t seem to generate any believable chemistry. His Bobby seems like a nice guy, but I never believed their romance. I also thought Toni Collette as Missi, the neighbor who cheats with Tammy’s husband Greg, was completely wasted in the role.
Falcone himself gets his chance to shine as Tammy’s boss Keith Morgan, and the scene where he fires her sets the film’s misanthropic tone as well as sets up one of the film’s recurring sight gags.
In the grand scheme of McCarthy’s career, Tammy won’t go down as a highlight, but neither will it be the blight upon her career that the critical backlash of the film seems to suggest. If you’re a fan of McCarthy, hit a matinee. (118 min.)