I want to start by saying I like Melissa McCarthy. I think she is an actress who is literally overflowing with talent and she has a sense of humor that is unbeatable. McCarthy is an adorable actress, and she is beaming with energy, light and unrelenting charisma. When I first saw her in “Bridesmaids,” I had a deep, unhinged feeling that she would become something special. For the most part, I feel I was right. She has become a special part of what makes comedy work on the big screen right now. I love that, I love that we have so many unbelievably funny actresses to choose from. I love that we have an actress who doesn't mind being de-glamorized, doesn't mind doing the raunchy stuff, doesn't mind being rigorously vulgar. I wish we had more actresses in Hollywood willing to bestow such talents. The thing that makes McCarthy somewhat frustrating to watch onscreen is how she makes her decisions. If you ask me, I don’t think “Identity Thief,” “This Is 40,” “Life as We Know It,” “The Hangover: Part III” and now “Tammy” can’t hold a candle to what McCarthy pulled off in “Bridesmaids.” Melissa McCarthy was an actress whom I thought would become the next Zack Galifianakis is now looking like she will become the next Adam Sandler.
Melissa McCarthy plays Tammy in a movie called “Tammy.” When we meet Tammy, she has just lost her McJob and throws a tantrum on the way out. To add insult to injury, she finds her husband eating a nice dinner with their next door neighbor and she immediately leaves him. So what does Tammy next with no job and no home? She picks up her Grandma Pearl (Susan Sarandon) and they hit the road together. So Tammy and Grandma Pearl hit the road to do…what? Honestly, it is a good question, which is hardly answered. In the beginning it seems that Tammy is trying to get away from her troubles and her Grandma Pearl is on the road for something fresh and exciting. They go all around the southern states, going to bars, getting drunk and arriving at crazy situation after crazy situation. But what does it all mean? There is really no substance to any decision made by either of these characters. “Tammy” just becomes a slapstick roadie comedy that is in search of a storyline. “Tammy” is a series of boring events, and then the film ends. What is odd about the film is that the events barely seem to add up. Sure, there is are some fabled issues that arise that have to do with life, and working head and finding your place, but the message hits you with the impact of a fortune cookie.
The resulting movie is both surprising and disappointing. It is especially disappointing since McCarthy is wildly talented. Not only that, but McCarthy and Sarandon are working with a cast that includes Ben Falcone, Kathy Bates, Allison Janney, Dan Aykroyd, Toni Collette, Mark Duplass, Sandra Oh, Nat Faxon and Gary Cole. I am wondering the same thing you are, how could such a strong, comedic cast not make a great comedy? I am absolutely befuddled by the failure created by “Tammy,” and most of all how the cast wasn't able to pull this movie off. Perhaps it has to do with “Tammy” being the directorial debut of Ben Falcone. Perhaps this is just slow rather than a beginner’s luck. I think Falcone could benefit from more time behind the camera. I don’t know what went wrong here, but it surprised me deeply.
Melissa McCarthy is fine as Tammy. It is sad because Tammy is just another obnoxious, odd character in the vein of Megan from “Bridesmaids.” Tammy is not a particularly good-looking lady, but I don’t think she is supposed to be. She is loud and she curses frequently. She makes odd analogies and never seems to truly understand what is going on. For all the talent hidden inside Melissa McCarthy, is it true that she is just a one-trick pony? Can we go ahead and predict now that McCarthy will be type-cast in major Hollywood comedies, anytime they need a loud and rambunctious leading lady? I certainly hope not, because I know that McCarthy is better than that and I think we are only beginning to see her comedic range. I want her to grow as a comedic actress, not stick to one persona. Unfortunately, there is nothing much to her character here, and she doesn't make the movie interesting enough at all. Look, I don't mean to sound rough and I certainly don't want it to sound like there is not a single merit to McCarthy's performance. I think she does everything she was asked to do and she certainly gives it her all. There were several moments in this film where I burst into wild laughter. I just think her character is a cardboard cutout and she was not able to breath life into the character.
Susan Sarandon is equally bland and her character seems to be equally stiff. Grandma Pearl goes on this adventure with Tammy simply because she is bored with life at home and she wouldn't let Tammy borrow her car without taking her. The idea of an adult taking their grandma on a cross-country road-trip seems like a perfect idea for a comedy, especially one that stars McCarthy and Sarandon. Sadly, Sarandon plays the typical, one-note, crazy family member in a movie like this. Grandma Pearl has a potty-mouth, she drinks a lot, and she flirts with all the boys, young and old. Then there is a moment in the film where everything changes and the films story finally reaches its climax. You can probably guess where the movie goes from there, and while Sarandon is charming in some scenes, it is undeniable that everything in this film is blithely obvious. And the rest of the cast is not around enough to really make a punch in this film’s script.
I think there is something very special in Melissa McCarthy, something I think we have already experienced once already. But the problem is that it is not flourishing right now. I think the promise she made with her performance in “Bridesmaids” hasn't been seen since 2011, not fully anyway. All I hope for is that McCarthy can begin making better decisions and we finally see the greatness we have been aching for ever since.
FINAL GRADE: D