The Hippo


May 31, 2020








Tammy (R)

Tammy (R)
Film Reviews: July 10, 2014

By Amy Diaz

 Tammy (McCarthy) gets to work at a fast food restaurant late and disheveled after having run into a deer on the way to work. Her bloody nose and crummy attitude get her fired by boss Keith (Ben Falcone, McCarthy’s real-life husband and the movie’s director and co-writer). Tammy walks home but still manages to get there before husband Greg (Nat Faxon) was expecting her and so she catches him having a romantic dinner with Missi (Toni Collette), the neighbor with whom he has been having an affair. A despondent Tammy walks a few doors down to her mother Deb’s (Allison Janney) house. Deb refuses to give her reckless daughter the keys to her car but Pearl (Susan Sarandon), Tammy’s grandmother, overhears the conversation and decides to give Tammy her car. The catch: Tammy, who says she needs a car to get out of town, has to take Pearl with her. 

Over Deb’s objections, Tammy reluctantly agrees and Pearl and Tammy set off for Niagara Falls, which is basically the first place they could think of going. They run in to an assortment of trouble along the way, especially when Pearl makes friends with Earl (Gary Cole), a fellow hard-drinking, frisky senior. It seems Pearl — who is making drinking a priority and appears to have left her diabetes medication behind — has a difficult streak as well. Though Tammy is grossed out by watching Earl hit on her grandmother (eventually getting Pearl back to the car for a makeout session), the circumstance does throw her together with Bobby (Mark Duplass), Earl’s responsible son. Bobby is, as he explains, rather drawn to the way that Tammy is not boring. 
“Not boring” is also the only thing the movie ever really decides that Tammy is. At times, she seems like she is supposed to be dimwitted or street smart, brash or utterly lacking in confidence, a victim of circumstance or somebody who has wasted her life. And perhaps making her all of those things does make sense but the movie doesn’t convey this in a way that makes her seem layered. Instead, the Tammy character seems confused — who is this woman and what is she supposed to learn through the course of the movie?  This central question of the movie is never answered or even really addressed in any coherent way. 
In movies like Bridesmaids and The Heat, McCarthy is able to take characters with big personalities and turn them into people with complexities but who are still identifiable as real people. They have an emotional core and a particular world view, and both of these aspects are only lightly sketched in Tammy. Even the relationship between Tammy and Pearl is unclear. We learn that Tammy had, as a kid, considered Pearl her best friend but felt abandoned when Pearl abruptly moved away. As the movie starts, though, Tammy is clearly many years away from childhood and Pearl appears to have lived with Deb for a long while. So what is their relationship now and how does it grow and change — I could never really pinpoint that either.
The talent in this movie — particularly Falcone and McCarthy — makes its overall sub-par-ness perplexing and, despite my attempts not to go in to this movie with sky-high expectations, disappointing. Is this a movie weakened and mush-ified by too many studio notes, or is it a project in need of more oversight? While watching the movie, I wished I could fix it, could take all the jokes that deflated as they were being told and the moments of broad-to-the-point-of-aimless comedy and reconstruct them so they’d work. 
Not every joke in Tammy is a failure and I did chuckle once or twice. But McCarthy, Sarandon, Janney, Collette, Kathy Bates in a small role as Pearl’s successful cousin, Sandra Oh — this is a long list of some talented people. With this firepower, this movie should have managed more than a limp fizzle. C-
Rated R for language including sexual referenced. Directed by Ben Falcone and written by Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy, Tammy is an hour and 36 minutes long and is distributed by Warner Bros.

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