Tammy: Bridesmaids' star on Gran theft auto pilot
REVIEW: The writer-producer’s road movie by numbers dozes off at the wheel, says Andrew Johnston.
You can file Melissa McCarthy's Tammy alongside Seth Rogen's Observe and Report, or Jonah Hill's The Sitter. Like those films, Tammy looks like a comedy, sounds like a comedy and stars one of modern cinema's most popular comedians. But also, like them, it just isn't funny.
Tammy could prove to be McCarthy's 'jumping-the-shark' moment. After a scene-stealing turn in Bridesmaids and hugely successful team-ups with Jason Bateman in Identity Thief and Sandra Bullock in The Heat, McCarthy takes the lead in this self-penned, self-produced hour-and-a-half of deadening nonsense.
Directed and co-written by the actress's husband, Ben Falcone, Tammy follows the fortunes of McCarthy's titular anti-heroine, who, when she's not screaming witless abuse at almost everyone she encounters, is stuffing her face or necking beers.
Within the first 10 minutes, the slobbish fast-food worker has crashed her car, been fired, walked in on her husband having an affair and fallen over several times.
Her response to all of this is to go on a road trip to Niagra Falls with her grandmother, for no good reason other than the film needs a plot and road trip movies generally feature two people.
And so, Tammy and fellow obnoxious drunkard Pearl (played by Susan Sarandon in a grey fright wig) hit the road, at various points for various convoluted reasons towing a jet ski, robbing a burger restaurant and attending a lesbian Independence Day party.
Pearl has sex with a party guest played by Gary Cole, Tammy physically assaults two teenagers and both women spend some time in jail. Comedy gold it isn't.
If there's some sort of commentary here on alcoholism, ageing, or dysfunctional families, it's buried in a screenplay that appears to have been knocked out by a kid with ADHD.
McCarthy's pratfalls are her stock-in-trade, but Falcone seems cowed by the demands of a mainstream audience and keeps the slapstick coming, whether it's appropriate or not.
Had Tammy had the courage of its convictions and gone for dark indie comedy, it might have been worth watching.
But dark indie comedies don't tend to do well at the box office.
If this is the strongest idea Falcone and McCarthy had for their debut screenplay, their imaginations must be pretty lacking.
Only the game performances by a starry cast save Tammy from being a turkey on a par with the worst of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (Date Movie, Epic Movie et al).
And even at that, the likes of Allison Janney, Toni Collette and Dan Aykroyd are wasted on mechanical supporting roles. Only Kathy Bates, as the host of the Independence Day bash, gets anything much to do, and is given a couple of nice lines.
McCarthy will no doubt return to form, and Falcone may well make decent films in the future, but for now, any self-respecting movie fan should give Tammy a wide berth.