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Tammy
Tammy movie poster

Tammy Movie Review

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Melissa McCarthy will either make you laugh or want to punch her in the face in Tammy, a tonally inconsistent comedy about an obnoxious woman who is really obnoxious. Funny at times but increasingly hit-or-miss as the story develops, audiences may be surprised and disappointed that it has some serious--and seriously ill- conceived--undertones. 

The trailers market Tammy as a nonstop laughfest, but the ads are misleading. First-time director Ben Falcone, who was the air marshal McCarthy seduces in Bridesmaids, somehow manages to take a relatively harmless road trip comedy and turn it into a story about pathetic characters, alcoholic grandmothers, and Fourth of July-themed lesbian parties in a world where Kathy Bates and Sandra Oh are a couple.

When the movie works, it works thanks to the determined attempts by Melissa McCarthy to evoke laughter. Any other actress with exception to maybe Rosie O'Donnell would have failed to make the opening scenes--where the title character hits a deer with her car, gets fired from her job and discovers that her husband is cheating on her--funny, because you can see how much McCarthy struggles to make these scenes, and the entire movie, funny.

For a while, McCarthy pulls it off. Her character, Tammy, is obnoxious and an obnoxious idiot, someone who really isn't likable. Because she's obnoxious. McCarthy twists these character traits for humor, but she strains so hard that eventually there's nothing left to give.

This moment occurs about two thirds through the movie.

With exception to "Mike & Molly," which I haven't seen, McCarthy has made a name for herself by playing politically incorrect, not-at-all-feminine women. But unlike in Bridesmaids and The Heat, where her characters' poor manners/behaviors were balanced by her being headstrong and confident, Tammy is a sad, sad creature. She's failed at everything at life, and even her closest friend, her grandma (Susan Sarandon), is unstable. Throughout Tammy, she continues to fail at life.

When the movie ends, we're supposed to believe she's made progress. After all, she's met a dude, a serially uninteresting individual played by Mark Duplass whose interest in Tammy feels so utterly forced it's almost gag-worthy. But really, has she made progress? Congrats, you've met a man who is boring as hell! Your life is now complete.

But perhaps the previous paragraphs are over-analyzing the movie. I know several critics who attended the same screening who absolutely hated Tammy. I'm not one of them. I laughed, I chuckled, and given that the movie is only 96 minutes long, I was relatively entertained. The third act is dull and overly serious, and the comedic bits during this time rarely hit the mark. Tammy, in the end, is generally funny but ultimately not all that great.

Tammy is no Identity Thief (read my review of that awful movie here), but the two films combined outline a character type that Melissa McCarthy needs to avoid in the future. She is a funny actress who thankfully managed to make the most of Tammy's mediocre screenplay, but being a funny actress can only take you so far.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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