Tammy (2014) – Review

Directed by Ben Falcone
Written by Melissa McCarthy, Ben Falcone
Starring Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates, Mark Duplass

The first half of my double-bill the other night (see The Fault In Our Stars review for the other half) nearly never happened. Why? Well, Bridesmaids notwithstanding, you might be hard pressed to find something that Melissa McCarthy has been invovled in that is what you might call ‘riotously’ funny. Bridesmaids was the only film that year that made me actually cry with laughter and I haven’t laughed so hard since, but McCarthy was the stand-out find of Bridesmaids, stealing the show from right under Kristen Wiig’s nose.
Since then, there has been The Heat and Identity Thief on the big screen and Mike & Molly on the little one, none of which could be classed as massive comedic successes. McCarthy is naturally gifted in this department and it clearly seems like she needs an equally impressive writer. In Bridesmaids, she had Judd Apatow to be grateful for, but she has been lacking that co-operative level of comedic genius since then. So, like any ambitious, eager and enthusiastic person would do if they want something doing, they do it themselves. McCarthy thinks she’s funny, it seems, she just needs to believe it herself.
And Tammy would appear to have been that vehicle. Taking writing responsibilities seemed like the natural thing for her to do. McCarthy produces here also, quickly becoming a multi-tasking ‘powerhouse’. Throwing her not inconsiderable weight (no pun intended) behind a project shows confidence, albeit possibly misjudged to an extent.Never afraid of using her size and gait as an excuse to laugh at her, this rather guilt-laden amusement is employed liberally and probably in the funniest moments, featured mostly in the trailer, when she is robbing a franchise of the burger joint she was only until recently employed by. This got the most laughs in my screening, but you do wonder just how long McCarthy can rely on her weight being funny. And if she lost her weight, would we then realise that the isn’t as funny as we thought? Her projects may not have openly directed this at their audiences, but there is little doubt that fat people falling over, or being out of breath or squeezing into things that are just a bit too tight for them is generally accepted as amusing. For how long that will remain to be the case, only time will tell.

But while it’s still funny, you will continue to find enterprising people like McCarthy ready to take advantage of it, even it does seem, morally at least, at their own expense. And really, this is simply more of the same we’ve been offered by McCarthy already, only with an arguably more impressive cast list. Joined by Susan Sarandon who plays her Grandmother, they go on an intended roadtrip to Niagara Falls, when Tammy’s world collapses around her. She loses her job on the same day she discovers the infidelity of her partner with the next door neighbour (Toni Collette). There is little left for her to do, but return to the home of her mother (Allison Janney, who lives on the same street) for solace. It is there that her Grandmother also resides. They decide, through a fair amount of protracted negotiation, to leave town. It can’t be any worse than staying , after all.After this, we’re sailiing eerily close to Identity Thief again. Sarandon and McCarthy do bounce off each other very well indeed, and together, they are very watchable as an out-of-sorts generational comedy quickstep highlights both of their quirks and foibles and the chasm of experience and attitude that each hold about the other and the world around them. On occasion the jokes do work, but not often enough to call this effort a critical success. McCarthy is a predictable cross of forlorn, overweight loser and an equally feisty, enthusiastic and ebullient comedy terrier.

Overall, it’s entertaining enough, but fails, again, to live up to McCarthy’s initial promise.Her writing goes some way to making this a more bearable experience than some of her pevious starrings, aided by the presence of the likes of Kathy Bates, Janney and Sarandon as an exeprienced support mechanism. Just don’t expect anything other than average, and you shouldn’t be surprised.

 

 

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