Friday, July 4, 2014

Tammy: Movie Review

A funny mess that doesn't know how to get from one joke to the next.

In “Tammy,” Melissa McCarthy stars as Tammy because when you’re hot, you’re hot. Her last movies have proven her popularity, her box office star status, and her undeniable talent. As an actress and a comedienne, she really is at the top of her game. So WB is banking off of giving her control of her own career, where she and her husband serve as producer, executive producer, writer and director. The result is a funny mess.   2014

Directed by: Ben Falcone

Screenplay by: Melissa McCarthy, Ben Falcone

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon

The opening scenes are truly funny. First Tammy hits a deer and one is worse off than the other, and Tammy’s heart is truly in the right place. Then Tammy gets fired and we are reconnected with McCarthy’s real-life husband and Bridesmaids partner. The jokes so far are quite decent, and certainly funny. But then we get into casting problems. Many, many famous faces show up for a scene or two and most of which aren’t very funny so their inclusion is just confusing. And then we have the anti-aging Susan Sarandon playing mother to Alison Janney and grandmother to Melissa McCarthy. Putting a grey wig on somebody doesn’t make them 80.

Tammy and grandmother Pearl are hitting the road because it’s time for Tammy to make a change in her life and Pearl doesn’t want to die alone in the house. The road trip itself isn’t very funny. Sarandon and McCarthy don’t have the comedic chemistry that Bullock and McCarthy have or even that Sarandon and Davis have. Considering where the film went, the downtimes during the road trip were probably supposed to provide connections to the characters, like deep heart-felt connections, but those most have gotten lost on the way.

In fact, many of the road trip scenes seem to be there solely as a way to get to the next funny scenes. So the film literally drives us there, rather than building reasons or a plot to drive the film forward. Luckily, we do always make it to another joke. The next great scene comes at a bar, when an unhappily married man has his eyes set on Pearl and Tammy has her eyes set on his son, Booby (Mark Duplass). McCarthy and Duplass have most of the comedic chemistry that she was missing with her grandmother, and all of the heartfelt sincerity that was missing.

There were some great characters in Tammy. I think Tammy herself is one of the best characters that McCarthy has portrayed. Her joke-style and sources of humour are the same as they’ve always been, but Tammy is very effectively created as sympathetic and funny; she’s determined to live her life the way she wants to, but she’s just too clueless to be able to do that. Bobby is just plain likable. He’s in control of his life and likes it when somebody creates fun excitement. That somebody would be Tammy.

But then we keep on driving. Random scenes are thrown in just for the jokes, and worse, we were somehow supposed to care about the relationship between Tammy and her grandmother. I didn’t find anything about Pearl funny or likable, and her trying to teach Tammy life lessons fell flat. Kathy Bates as another relative did a better job, but the ratio between heart and humour was too far off.

“Tammy” is funny. The humourous scenes on their own are quite humourous, but the film had no clue how to get from one joke to the next. Melissa McCarthy can still bring the comedy, but this had the worst structure of all of her recent starring-role successes.

Similar Titles:

The Heat (2013) - These girls know how to bring the comedy, and the movie mostly respects that.

Identity Thief (2013) - Formulaic road trip comedy, but the actors make the jokes funny.

The Other Woman (2014) - A movie full of toilet humour cheapens the rather amusing women.