Tammy is exactly what happens when the duo responsible for a breakout performance are given carte blanche control over a vanity project. It’s a sad, angry excuse for a comedy that contains exactly one chuckle and infinitely more cringing. That it couldn’t even rise above the basement-low bar set by 2013’s horrifically bad Identity Thief is really saying something. In fact, it may be worse since it drags a respectable cast that deserves better through its gears of misery.
Melissa McCarthy stars in the title role as Tammy. As the film opens, she’s having a bad day. She has just wrecked her car after hitting a deer, then she gets fired from her job at a fast food restaurant, then finds out her husband is cheating on her with a neighbor. Fed up, she hits the road with her grandmother (Sarandon), an alcoholic with a car and $6700 cash. They set off for Niagara Falls and run head-first into the usual road trip cliches along the way.
McCarthy can be and has been funny, but as a lead she is absolutely exhausting. When talking doesn’t garner any laughs, just talk more, and more, and more. Compounding matters is that, like her character in Identity Thief, Tammy is really just a pretty awful person. She verbally assaults complete strangers and damages property, but since she has a tragic back story it’s really all okay! The script, by McCarthy and director/husband Ben Falcone, sloppily tries to balance the two extremes to no avail. Since McCarthy so desperately wants to be the female version of Chris Farley, perhaps the first takeaway moving forward should be that Farley was never mean-spirited and hateful.
Somehow the likes of Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates, Dan Aykroyd, and Mark Duplass are involved in this sludge. All look as if they can’t wait for the check to clear. Sarandon is wholly unbelievable as a grandma that is supposed to be in poor health. She looks more like a middle-aged mom in a gray-haired wig. Bates temporarily pulls the film up a bit in her limited screen time and earns the movie’s sole laugh. Aykroyd and Duplass play their parts so low-key that you can tell they’re hoping whomever sees this film forgets it by the actual Fourth of July.
Tammy is a grueling ninety-six minutes and one of 2014’s worst films. McCarthy is proving to be a one-trick actress with an act that is already past its expiration date. It’s a mean-spirited, joyless exercise in crass vanity filmmaking and attempted audience manipulation.
Studio: Warner Bros.
Length: 96 Minutes
Rating: R for language including sexual references.
Theatrical Release: July 2, 2014
Directed by: Ben Falcone
Written by: Melissa McCarthy & Ben Falcone
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates, Mark Duplass, Dan Aykroyd