Tammy is a film you really want to be good. An almost entirely female led cast in a raunchy comedy is still a rarity despite Bridesmaids showing us all it can be done successfully. This is the kind of movie we need to diversify the comedy scene and give us something else than Judd Apatow and Wayans brothers films.
That is it would be the kind of movie if it was any good at all. Unfortunately Tammy is a complete and total mess of a film devoid of much humor and suffering from even less character development. If you name your film after its lead character she better be damn interesting and Tammy is not.
Director: Ben Falcone
Release Date: July 2, 2014
Tammy as the name suggests is about Tammy (Melissa McCarthy), but that insinuates that there is actually something interesting about the character of Tammy and that interesting things happen to her. They don’t really. The film opens with Tammy, at this point an entirely reprehensible character with little redeeming value, losing her job and then finding her husband cheating on her. As such she decides to run away from home and her alcoholic, diabetic (comic gold, right?) grandmother Pearl (Susan Sarandon) goes along with her. Thus starts a kind of road trip film of self discovery as Tammy and Pearl unravel and, of course, fall in love with some men they meet — because we can’t have a female led comedy without a kiss at the end.
There’s a lot of issues with Tammy, but the most striking is how horribly developed her character is. From the name of the film one would assume this is a fully developed character that everyone is supposed to get into, but she’s all over the place. The first half of the film has her acting like a complete moron simply to drive laughs. Then suddenly in the second half, since they realized they had a character who was too stupid to develop, her character turns into someone completely different. We go from comedy based on complete idiocy (Who is Mark Twain?) to an attempt to have an emotional impact. The end result is a character that you can’t relate to because she actually isn’t a character at all, just a reason to have some punchlines.
Those punchlines are terrible. One of the best things about McCarthy is that most of her comedy isn’t based around a larger woman doing things, which many comedies inherently find hilarious for some reason. Tammy spends the first half the film treating its lead actor like she’s a site gag with some of the least funny slapstick I’ve seen in a long while. While the humor does improve during the second half of the film when they decide to turn Tammy into a character and not a punchline it isn’t much better.
Even when the film does threaten to be interesting it veers quickly away once again relying on some horrible humor to obscure its darker tones. Pearl’s alcoholism and diabetes rear their head as the film attempts to go dramatic, but are more often used to make jokes about drunk people and how big a diabetics feet can get if they aren’t taking care of themselves. Maybe these things are funny to some, but if you’ve ever known an alcoholic or diabetic it’s almost reprehensible. When the movie finally tries to take things seriously it’s all lost because none of the characters have developed into anything past their initial punchlines.
McCarthy is unfortunately at some of her worst here. The charm and honesty of her Bridesmaid‘s performance is gone and is replaced with her increasingly tiresome schtick. Her performance, much like the comedy, dares to be interesting every once in a while, but is never more than her usual act. Sarandon seems to be phoning it in from her retirement home, and her and McCarthy rarely have any true on screen chemistry together. Thank god for Kathy Bates who arrives late to the film as one of Tammy’s lesbian aunts. She delivers some of the film’s only really funny moments and its only true emotional one.
Tammy is a mess of a movie when it really needed to be a great one. More interested in piecing together a few funny scenes than a coherent story it never delivers the title character it promises. Instead we’re forced to watch uncomfortably as McCarthy seemingly shills herself out as the big, funny girl.