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Review and Roundup: Why Melissa McCarthy Vehicle ‘Tammy’ Never Takes Off

Review and Roundup: Why Melissa McCarthy Vehicle 'Tammy' Never Takes Off

Who isn’t rooting for Melissa McCarthy to succeed? She’s the living proof that so many of Hollywood’s long-held ideas about relegating character actresses and comediennes to supporting riffs are plain idiotic. She blasted out of “Bridesmaids” like a rocket and has sustained her soaring trajectory. From “Identity Thief” to “The Heat” (with uber-star Sandra Bullock), McCarthy proved she could carry a comedy. Until now.

Given the chance to do her own thing, writing and collaborating with her husband Ben Falcone on Gary Sanchez production “Tammy,” McCarthy had an opportunity to show us all what she can do. Instead of taking off in uncharted directions, she delivers a limp noodle of a dumb comedy. After a lovely set piece when she hits a deer on the road, McCarthy is outshone by veterans Susan Sarandon and Kathy Bates, partly because she gives herself such a poorly constructed, ugly character to play. It’s hard to believe that this under-educated “fat loser,” as her drunk grandmother (Sarandon) calls her late in the movie (Tammy doesn’t recognize the name Mark Twain), could be in the same family as her grandmother (whose illness she ignores to a dangerous degree), parents (Allison Janney and Dan Aykroyd) or her husband (Nat Faxon). McCarthy is all over the place. We do not know who Tammy is or how she got there. 

I wanted more background on their marriage, or some understanding of why their house didn’t look like Tammy could have lived in it. While Sarandon owns her flirtation with an older man (Gary Cole), McCarthy’s romantic interaction with his saccharine son (Mark Duplass) is forced and awkward. McCarthy is a talented woman. Why does her comedy have to be so dumb? Why not make it smart? 

One critic below compares “Tammy” to “Nebraska.” I’d like to see McCarthy work with Alexander Payne. That’s the right idea. He’s been breaking Hollywood’s comedy rules for years. He could challenge her with his brainy, thoughtful real-world filmmaking. Audiences love her deft timing, athletic physical comedy and inner strength–that’s what she showed in “The Heat.” This sloppy movie smacks of prole pandering. 

Review round-up and trailer below:

Variety‘s review included the phrase “through a series of hijinks either too complicated or too idiotic to summarize”:

A well-meaning personal project that never rises above the level of amiable mediocrity, “Tammy” feels like the kind of picture that can happen only when a major talent — here, the unsinkable Melissa McCarthy, who wrote the script with her husband and director, Ben Falcone — has amassed enough clout to try something different.  McCarthy delivers another one of her patented loser-girl comic showcases, all coarse displays of temper, aggression and flailing ineptitude. That the performance and the movie ultimately aspire to something richer — a compassionate look at midlife malaise and cross-generational female bonding — turns out to be more admirable in theory than enjoyable in the execution by the end of this middling misfire.

Screen Crush‘s Mike Ryan posed his review as a Q&A titled “Is ‘Tammy’ Secretly a Drama? (And 24 Other Urgent Questions)”:

Q: So, how funny is ‘Tammy’? The previews look hilarious.

A: Strangely, ‘Tammy’ isn’t that funny.

Q: Do the jokes not work?

A: Though advertised as completely the opposite, ‘Tammy’ is more of a drama than a comedy.

Q: Will audiences like ‘Tammy’?

A: ‘Tammy’ isn’t a bad movie – and it’s much more interesting than the ad campaign would let on – but I suspect that audiences who are paying money to watch the dolt on the jet ski that they’ve seen on the television commercials are going to be disappointed by the family drama that is ‘Tammy.’

Q: Does Pearl’s alcoholism play a large role in ‘Tammy’?

A: Yes, which adds to the fact that this isn’t really a comedy.

And The Huffington Post‘s Christopher Rosen called “Tammy” “a good movie only under the most liberal definition of good” but said that it’s mere existence is “a positive development for everyone.”  In particular, Rosen loved McCarthy singing The Outfield and Mark Duplass’s sweet, sensitive performance, and said the film was less like McCarthy’s “Identity Thief” and “more like a remake of “Nebraska” with jokes about having sex with the Allman brothers.”

Watch the film’s latest somewhat misleading trailer below.

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