“Maybe I’m just the worst person on the planet.”
Few movies incite the kind of hatred conjured up by Ben Falcone’s Tammy, a film so dreadfully unfunny and humiliatingly cringe-worthy that it’s weird to think that the actress at the center of everything is an Academy Award nominee. Melissa McCarthy stars as the eponymous overweight weirdo who gets fired from a fast food job only to find her adulterous husband is more or less kicking her out of the house. This leads her to begin a road trip with her alcoholic grandmother in search of…Niagara Falls. What occurs during the film’s drudging 96 minutes is hardly coherent, let alone minorly amusing. Following the misfires of both Identity Thief and The Heat, Tammy finds McCarthy retreating back to a role similar to her applauded one in Bridesmaids but to such a heavy-handed and frustrating degree that the movie ends up feeling like a television sketch that never deserved the full-length treatment. It’s the kind of film that makes you realize how much you despise the qualities of a certain screen performer. Bottom line: The terrible Tammy has made me strongly dislike the presence of Melissa McCarthy onscreen.
For a movie titled after its lead character, one would expect it to be a focused film about the eponymous central person chronicling some kind of arc or transition that they endure. In terms of moviemaking 101, the hope that the lead character ends up a different kind of person than when the film begins would be an elementary desire, but even with such a basic intention, Tammy manages to go nowhere. Therefore, the movie Tammy also goes nowhere. Characters enter and exit the picture without as much as an introduction and famous faces get wasted in bit, almost dialogue-less parts, while McCarthy flings herself through random sequence after crass monologue. Even after experiencing the numbing mayhem of Transformers: Age of Extinction last week, I can honestly say that somewhere in that film’s excessive 2 hours and 45 minutes, some unintentional humor lightened my growing hatred. In Tammy, there is nothing to make it any more bearable. In fact, Transformers, an aggressive action orgy of faux-excitement, was far funnier than the mundane Tammy, which was written by McCarthy and her husband, Ben Falcone, who also directed.
There are only so many synonyms for the word ‘boring’ that I can use before it becomes overbearing, but even when the plotting in a comedy isn’t its strongest asset, viewers can sometimes find glimmers of grace in the performers involved. Tammy, again, fails to even meet this scenario. McCarthy is atrocious and sinks the film down with her foul performance. In the cases of her last few films, it was the writing of Identity Thief and her pairing with a very miscast Sandra Bullock in The Heat that were to blame, but Tammy is a family affair (and apparently a passion project of McCarthy’s) so it’s the actress herself to blame for all of the film’s wrong doings. Her writing is terribly broad and fractured, never clearly formulating a clear plotline or creating a motive suitable enough for anything to happen. At first, it seems like a road trip film built to spotlight potential comic banter between McCarthy and Tammy’s grandmother, played by a not-old-enough Susan Sarandon donning a tacky grey wig. By the time the credits roll, we’ve seen Sarandon and Gary Cole (Office Space) have weird backseat-of-a-car sex, Tammy crash a jet ski into a pier and drunk drive with Sarandon riding shotgun (also chugging whiskey every chance she can get), both characters end up in jail, there’s a party just full of lesbians (including lovers Kathy Bates and Sandra Oh…weird), Mark Duplass weirdly falls for the disgusting Tammy, actors Nat Faxon, Toni Collette, and Dan Aykroyd (repeat: DAN AYKROYD) grace the screen without much to do, and Tammy robs a fast-food restaurant…twice.
Tammy is a character who deserves nothing more than a short segment on a live-action sketch show, if that. As we’ve seen, some sketch characters can sustain a full movie (i.e. The Blues Brothers), but others don’t have the capabilities. Director Ben Falcone doesn’t have the craftsmanship to even pretend Tammy is worth a full length feature, and there were times during this film that I honestly forgot McCarthy had once been up for award consideration by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Falcone and McCarthy may seem like a dream team in theory (the two of them were a major reason why the airplane sequence in Bridesmaids works so well), but if Tammy is any true indication of their creative partnership, they would be better off remaining a happily married couple and not a professional dynamic duo.
I’ve targeted a couple of movies this summer with scorn and warning – Jersey Boys, A Million Ways to Die in the West, Transformers, Maleficent, etc. –but Tammy is just so unfathomably terrible that it makes me want to bump up the grades on each of those films. It has made me despise Melissa McCarthy. It has made me wonder about the future of both McCarthy and Falcone and if they will ever right themselves from something so low. It will make me wonder if McCarthy will ever realize that nobody wants to see her play the same gross character and say ugly, crass things to people and continue to make her appearance the butt end of every joke. The sad thing about her appearance is that McCarthy is actually a pretty woman when she takes the time to be one, but her string of big screen appearances since she broke out in Bridesmaids makes me believe she only wants to remain ugly and continually use her weight for a punch-line.
For me, Tammy is a waste of time and space, and in an effort to not waste any more of your time and any more of my space, I will conclude here and with this: Do yourself a favor and stay away.
I wish someone could have given me a similar warning.
Review by Mike Murphy