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McCarthy is a relatively new movie star, but she’s already discovered a
formula; if you saw Identity Thief
you’ll recognize it in her latest vehicle, Tammy.
The film opens by showing McCarthy’s working-class character at her most crass
and offensive. At some point she’s humanized and reduced to tears; this creates
empathy, you see. In a subsequent scene she adopts a softer, more appealing
hairstyle and wardrobe—to the surprise of her male costar. We get a few more
tears, then another round of inane humor to bring it all home.

There are
occasional laughs in Tammy, but
they’re far too occasional for a supposed comedy. McCarthy wrote this script for
herself with her husband, Ben Falcone (who also directed and costars), and
let’s just say it may not be taught in the better screenwriting courses. It
makes little sense at the outset and even less at the conclusion. You can glean
all you need to from the trailer: self-destructive loser McCarthy leaves home
on a road trip with her randy, hard-drinking grandmother (Susan Sarandon) and
they have a series of raucous misadventures.

Clearly, McCarthy and Falcone are
counting on fans deriving enough enjoyment from sheer tumult to please them and
overlook the film’s illogic and inconsistencies. It doesn’t hurt that they’ve
cast the film with A-list players, including Sarandon, Allison Janney, Toni
Collette, Gary Cole, Mark Duplass, Kathy Bates, Sandra Oh, Dan Aykroyd, and Nat
Faxon. Most of them have small, thankless roles, but Sarandon effortlessly
dominates every scene she’s in and keeps her character grounded and real, no
matter how shallow or silly the script may be. Duplass is also quite likable as
McCarthy’s down-to-earth love interest.

Melissa McCarthy has a powerful
comedic presence. Why should it be squandered in a movie this mediocre?


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