Tammy

Movie Review #796: ‘Tammy’ is tiringly unfunny.

★½
By Alexander Diminiano
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Comedy
Rated R (contains profanity, suggestive dialogue)
96 minutes

When I see a funny trailer like the one for “Tammy”, the first thing I’ll think is, “I want to go see this movie.” The second thing I’ll think might be, “This movie looks pretty good.” And unfortunately, the last thing I’ll think is, “Hell no, I’m not seeing this crap! This is false advertising!”

Melissa McCarthy steals the show here as much as she does in the trailer. Though in the trailer, she stood out because she was insanely funny. In the movie itself, it’s simply because she takes the main role as Tammy. Tammy is a young woman–er, 30-something-year-old girl who loses her job, discovers her husband is cheating on her, and hits the road with her alcoholic grandmother (Susan Sarandon)…all in the same day. A better way of summarizing “Tammy”, though, would to say simply that it pitches McCarthy as her usual character. From a critical standpoint, and also the standpoint of a bored-to-death film watcher, I’d also add to the summary a little warning that this is her Waterloo.

In most cases, I appreciate the balance between McCarthy’s signature, elementary-schooler-mentality character, and the comedy that ensues when she responds to the real situations she gets into. This balance opens the door wide for successful fish-out-of-water humor, usually. I was hoping “Tammy” would offer McCarthy’s character as smartly as in “The Heat”, where McCarthy’s fifth-grade insults are funny because they contrast with the properness of Sandra Bullock’s character. But “Tammy” is a different and much, much worse movie. It’s not as clever as “The Heat”, and while it’s clever, it’s more often obnoxious.

In co-writing the script (with husband and director Ben Falcone), Melissa McCarthy ends up fitting the immaturity and crudeness that makes HER character funny, into the dialogue of EVERY character. While we can definitely tell that Tammy and her grandmother are trashier and fouler than everyone else, most characters are still pretty crass fifth-graders stuck in adults’ bodies, as they swear talk about sex, drugs, and alcohol. It reduces the fish-out-of-water humor to the point where we see nothing particularly interesting about McCarthy’s character.

Though in some sense, McCarthy does stand out above the rest of the buffoons in the cast. Let’s be fair to her efforts. She tries as the onscreen titular character. Her enthusiasm kept me awake–that and the folks talking in the row behind me. But can I pull a page out of Yoda’s book for a moment? “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.” See, there’s something philosophical about that quote. McCarthy’s attempts mean absolutely nothing unless they actually take the movie somewhere. They don’t, so I’m willing to forget McCarthy’s performance entirely.

If nothing else, the first fifteen minutes of “Tammy” are funny. McCarthy gets fired from her job, discovers her husband is cheating on her, and decides to flee town with her alcoholic grandmother. Haven’t I said this already? And speaking of repeating one’s self, we get sick of hearing about how a certain deer ran into Tammy’s car (or the other way around) pretty quickly. Though it’s probably because McCarthy knows how funny that deer scene was and she thinks maybe mentioning it will bring the laughs back. I gotta say, I laughed uncontrollably during the deer scene, and I really wish my laughs throughout the rest of the movie added up to half of how much I laughed there. It didn’t happen, though, because despite its billing as a comedy, featuring one of the most talented comediennes of the new decade, “Tammy” just isn’t funny.

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