Melissa McCarthy stands as the most polarizing comedic force currently circulating Hollywood, and no film better represents her “love me or hate me” personality more than hubby Ben Falcone’s directorial debut, Tammy. Written by the husband and wife team, McCarthy’s signature brand of unkempt comedy “comes in hot” for the films entirety, barraging audiences with the titular character’s uneducated, vulgar, and sometimes moronic “charms.” Where The Heat let McCarthy flex her badass-cop muscles, and where Bridesmaids allowed McCarthy’s vulgarity to be counterbalanced by numerous clashing personalities, Tammy takes the “lovable dimwit” route a bit too emphatically, presenting audiences with a comedic helping that is three sizes too large.
McCarthy pairs up with the legendary Susan Sarandon for a self-reflective road trip filled with trials and tribulations, as Sarandon plays Tammy’s grandmother (Pearl). After finding herself in a rut, Pearl allows Tammy to escape using her car, but only if she’s allowed to come along for the ride. Hitting the road, Pearl and Tammy’s journey includes lakefront water sports, criminal activity, and a lesbian 4th of July party, but can their relationship survive hidden secrets and Pearl’s uncontrollable alcoholism?
While I’m a supporter of McCarthy’s comedy, it’s becoming more evident by the movie that she needs someone to help counterbalance her brash tactics, and unfortunately Susan Sarandon was not that person in Tammy. Kooky alcoholic grandparents have been portrayed before, yet the chemistry between McCarthy and Sarandon is carried without much weight despite Pearl’s random outbursts of offensive insults. The novelty of a senior swigging whiskey and flashing her boobs wears thin faster than Tammy’s historical ignorance, as it’s enacted without any vivaciousness or intrigue beyond being a single-note gag. There are no layers to Falcone’s characters, just surface value goofiness favoring stupidity over witty banter and dense comedy with original staying power, which slowly deflates over time as a flat tire on a Winnebago would.
It’s a shame that the likes of Toni Collette, Nat Faxon, Dan Aykroyd and Mark Duplass are wasted on useless bit roles, but Kathy Bates does her best to pick up the slack as Pearl’s lesbian friend (partnered with Sandra Oh). Playing Leonore gives Bates a chance to let loose and enjoy “blowing shit up,” including a brilliant viking funeral conducted with ample excitement, but some of the funniest cast members find themselves relegated to mere cogs in Tammy’s boisterous machine. McCarthy’s hollow role overtakes every single situation, forcing her way on screen with the grace and tact of a bull in a china shop.
The Blu-Ray quality of Tammy turns out to be a tremendous letdown, even rocking on my 1080p High Definition Sony. Tammy is the perfect example of delivering an upgraded Blu-Ray watch while putting in minimal effort, still having glimpses of a grainier DVD picture when nothing of note seems to be happening. The audio also runs on an unbalanced track where some cuts are louder than others, really showing a lack of care put into such a mundane Blu-Ray release. While it comes as a DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack, I’d be hard pressed to find anyone who swears Blu-Ray is the only way to watch Tammy – you’ll be fine just popping the DVD in for this watch.
As for the special features, here’s how Tammy super-sizes its value meal:
- Tammy’s Road Trip Checklist
- Gag Reel
- Deleted Scenes
- Fun Extras (Poom-O-Rama/Wave-O-Rama/Mindless Chat-O-Rama)
As for the extras, lovers of McCarthy’s signature raunchy ad-libbing will love all the extra tidbits of their favorite actors riffing – but just remember there’s a reason why these scenes were edited down in the first place. All the “O-Rama” featurettes are elongated takes of Tammy gags, be it her Topper Jacks exit featuring a slew of middle finger “Pooms” or her cocky wave-running, giving you extended iterations of each segment. The gag reel offers viewers plenty of chances to watch actors break character in uncontrollable laughter, while the deleted scenes reveal a strip club scene that got the axe in favor of a shorter run length. Go ahead and skip on Tammy’s Checklist though – unless actors talking about their own road trip stories sounds like a needed adventure.
Tammy is a bullish comedy that goes all-in on McCarthy’s presence, yet there’s a sad lack of soul in her embodiment of the titular character. While the odd-ball road trip presents plenty of opportunities for grandmother/granddaughter bonding, much of the time is spent stringing together dumbfounding jokes and middling gags that quickly wear thin based on baseless repetition. While locations always change, Tammy’s brutish demeanor outweighs an emotional journey sweeter than a Topper Jacks’ apple pie, making Falcone and McCarthy’s screenplay a dead-on-arrival effort. Tammy is exactly the movie you’d dread based on unimpressive trailers, even if you’re the most die hard of Melissa McCarthy fans.