Director: Ben Falcone
Writers: Ben Falcone, Melissa McCarthy
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Alison Janney, Gary Cole, Mark Duplass, Dan Akroyd, Kathy Bates, Sandra Oh, Toni Collette, Nat Faxon
Running Length: 96 minutes
Synopsis: Tammy (Melissa 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 (Susan 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 grandma riding shotgun, it may be just what Tammy needs.
Review: Somewhere beneath the jumbled mess of Tammy is a good movie – there are scenes where the film feels warm and fuzzy, and there are a few funny, even laugh-out-loud moments. But so much of the film comes off as directionless and lackadaisical that for a short movie that clocks in under 100 minutes, Tammy feels like a protracted, joyless affair. What’s truly surprising is that the film is co-written by McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone, who also directed the movie, and yet this passion project (which took more than half a decade to come to fruition) seems so devoid of any real passion.
Tammy is essentially a road trip movie, and like all road trip movies the journey is usually more important than the destination. This is not the case, unfortunately, in Tammy – there’s very little actual travelling involved, and some of the stopovers make absolutely no sense. The most egregious example of this is the diversion to what seems like a lesbian compound, where a bunch of talented actresses (I’m looking at you, Kathy Bates and Sandra Oh) come together and basically collectively waste their talents doing nothing.
The biggest failing of Tammy, however, is that the McCarthy-Sarandon pairing does not work well – putting an insufficient age gap aside (Sarandon is just 67, 24 years apart from McCarthy’s 43), there is almost no chemistry between the two, and sparks just simply fail to fly even when the movie calls for it. That, and the lack of directorial skills from Falcone, who has absolutely no sense of timing or pacing – one wonders what the film could have been like in the hands of a more capable director.
It’s no surprise that Melissa McCarthy is not the problem here – she has excellent comic timing, and manages to flesh out a somewhat believable Tammy that’s not just a sad caricature of an overweight woman. However, even an excellent comedian like her has trouble with the material when it’s just not up to snuff, and in the end there are many more unsuccessful sequences in Tammy than successful ones. It’s not a stretch to say that the film is only watchable because of McCarthy’s considerable talents, and this is a film that passes the Bechdel Test with flying colours, but whether these alone can justify a trip to the cinema would depend largely on one’s affections towards McCarthy’s style of comedy and acting.
Rating: * * (out of four stars)