Tammy (2014)

Tammy (2014)

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Funniest part of the film, tarnished by having to watch it in context.
Funniest part of the film, tarnished by having to watch it in context.

Twitter Plot Summary: A mostly unpleasant woman goes on a road trip with her grandmother, and a laugh-free zone follows them.

Five Point Summary:

1. Ripping off Ace Ventura…
2. Let’s get out of here! (Do we really have to follow this pair?)
3. Holding up the fast food restaurant. Best thing in the film.
4. Welcome, lesbian women.
5. Something has switched in Tammy, and it does not compute.

Tammy marks the first film that Melissa McCarthy has written and starred in herself, following some star-making turns in Bridesmaids, Identity Thief and The Heat. What is unfortunate is that she seems to keep playing variations of the same character, to the point where it’s starting to get a little tedious. Tammy is no different in this respect, and she is undergoing a difficult time when we meet her, so based on that intro you know it’s going to be one of those typical “learn from your mistakes” stories. Except that right from the off it’s difficult to have any sympathy for Tammy or her situation as she’s plainly a horrible person.

For a film that’s purportedly a comedy, Tammy fails to hit the mark on multiple occasions. The biggest laugh is one that featured in the trailer, with Tammy trying to lock a pair of fast food employees into a walk-in fridge, which in the context of the film loses much of what made it funny when considered on its own. Beyond that, there is a distinct lack of jokes, or rather a distinct lack of jokes that work. It’s not a rapid fire approach to gags, but the ones that are fired out frequently miss their target completely. When Lumbergh from Office Space shows up along with his son (Mark DuplSs), an incredibly awkward budding romance between the son and Tammy starts to play out. This is neither entertaining nor believable, and is mostly uncomfortable to watch. Duplass doesn’t have much to work with at all, and there’s never any clear reason given for his character falling for Tammy beyond the script demanding it.

Susan Sarandon looks like she’s having fun as Tammy’s grandmother, who tags along when Tammy decides to get out of town after losing her job, her car and her marriage. There’s also a very strong performance from Kathy Bates as a lesbian woman who fought hard to make something of herself – and qho also has a penchant for blowing stuff up. Dan Aykroyd has a brief cameo towards the end of the film and is perhaps the best thing in it. Shame that he only shows up for a couple of minutes, and right at the end of the film no less.

Reading the script pushed them both to The Drink.
Reading the script pushed them both to The Drink.

There’s nothing wrong with McCarthy herself, in fact she’s proven herself to be quite an accomplished actor in the past, and there are even moments here where she hits the mark. The real issue is the tonal imbalance that afflicts the film, switching from an attempt at broad-stroke humour to mawkish sentimentality and often finding itself stuck awkwardly between the two. Tammy’s character seems to undergo a mid-film personality change without it ever being explained. One minute she is brash, irritating and almost completely unlikeable, then suddenly it’s as if she has had an epiphany and morphed into the character she should have been from the very start.

It’s disappointing that McCarthy could not have come up with a script more worthy of her talents instead of what we are ultimately left with, but with any luck some of the negative feedback will find its way to her and her next effort will correct the mistakes made here. We can but hope.

Score: 1.5/5

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