wed 17/07/2024

Tammy | reviews, news & interviews



Melissa McCarthy hits the road in a self-penned effort that fails to live up to its promise

Melissa McCarthy finally twigs that her co-star is a heavily disguised Susan Sarandon

Melissa McCarthy has been one of the decade's most notable comic finds. Although she's been plugging away for years on TV, as a stand-up, in sketch troupe the Groundlings and in various supporting roles, it was Bridesmaids and The Heat which brought her much deserved attention - including an Oscar nomination for her part in the former.

More than just comic fodder, these characters were tough (but sensitive), smart and sisterly women railing against preconceptions and prejudice. In the altogether less fabulous Tammy she once again teams up with her husband Ben Falcone - best known as her air marshal lover in Bridesmaids. They collaborate on the script with Falcone making his debut at the helm.

In Tammy the titular character (played by McCarthy) totals her car after hitting a deer whilst involved in an enthusiastic sing-along - which becomes more of a snack-along. This sets into motion a chain of misery which sees her fired from her job (by Falcone no less, pictured with McCarthy below right) and ditched by her husband Greg (Nat Faxon), who's hooking up with their neighbour Missi (Toni Collette). Despairing at her lot she takes to the road with her elderly, dangerously infirm grandmother Pearl (Susan Sarandon) who funds the trip and whose booze-fuelled sedition ignites all manner of trouble. This classic odd couple are worried at from afar by Tammy's sensible mother Deb (Allison Janney), with Dan Aykroyd making an appearance as her father Don.

There's something wonderfully novel about the idea of the robustly beautiful cinematic legend Sarandon playing someone's alcoholic granny - so much so that it almost feels like it should be a good enough gag for the entire movie to coast along on (rather like Babs Streisand in The Guilt Trip, who played a whole lot of Jewish mother to winning effect, or Jack Nicholson finally acting his age in About Schmidt). If only that were the case.

Sarandon is the ultimate road movie buddie of course, from back in the Thelma & Louise days; she has fun with the role of Pearl and can certainly play comedy, but she's a mite too gentle for this less-than-glamorous-but-nevertheless-randy-old-firebrand who's a real b-i-t-c-h when she's several sheets to the wind. We watch as Pearl sells a six-pack to kids, knocks back OxyContin on the loo by sloshing it down with whisky, and gets mashed-up of a morning as she mixes the hard stuff gleefully with a slushy.

The talent that first-timer Falcone has assembled here is extraordinary (Kathy Bates and Gary Cole also feature) but the supporting cast are offered little more than cameos. Collette and Faxon (the latter is the Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Descendants who recently co-wrote, directed and featured in The Way Way Back) barely have a line, and Janney and Aykroyd make do with little more. And Mark Duplass is a flat love interest in a romance that feels tacked on.

McCarthy brings depth to her thinly written protagonist, rendering this floundering slob likeable, and the relationship between Tammy and the wayward Pearl can be touching. However - a reasonably amusing restaurant stick-up aside - Tammy lacks effective comic set-pieces, alongside a purposeful plot, a consistent tone and, one after another, its gags fall down flat.

The trailer is pretty crude but at least promises fun and a smattering of attitude, something the film largely fails to deliver. There's sometimes a sense of the film chickening out for the right reasons, as if its characters are basically decent people and not quite bad-ass enough to really follow through on their antics. That inherent sweetness never quite compensates for the fact that, as a comedy, Tammy feels a whole lot wimpier than it should be; it's only mildly entertaining and only ever weakly funny.

Overleaf: watch the trailer for Tammy





McCarthy brings depth to her thinly written protagonist, rendering this floundering slob likeable


Editor Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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