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Oh, my. Regular readers know I wasn’t a big fan of Bridesmaids, but I liked The Heat a whole lot. So in spite of the previews (which I saw again and again for weeks on end), I was hoping for the best. Alas Tammy is an embarrassing mess.

It honestly breaks my heart to say this, because Melissa McCarthy (who not only stars but co-wrote the screenplay) uses her considerable powers as a mainstream star to create roles for some of my all-time favorite actresses (starting with Susan Sarandon, but also including Kathy Bates, Toni Collette, Allison Janney and Sandra Oh). The problem is, she doesn’t give any of them anything interesting to do. And the character she creates for herself pleads so desperately for sympathy that I instinctively turned away.

Better luck next time, Melissa. (2.5/5)

Click HERE for our FF2 Haiku. Never to be seen by Rich.

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Review of Tammy by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky

Tammy is everything audiences have come to expect from Melissa McCarthy: a loud, uncensored clown with a heart of gold who provides plenty of laughter with her outrageous personality. Like her breakout role in Bridesmaids and the Sandra Bullock buddy comedy The Heat, her newest role as “Tammy” (a recently fired and almost clueless fast-food worker) is the same-old shtick. Does it make me laugh? Yes. Is it getting a little old? Yes.

Written by McCarthy and husband Ben Falcone (who also directs), the road trip comedy begins with Tammy hitting a deer with her car, resulting in tardiness and termination from Topper Jack’s. Adding to the stress of the day, Tammy comes home to find her husband “Greg” (Nat Faxon) cheating on her with their neighbor “Missi” (Toni Collette).

Fed up, Tammy packs a bag and walks next door to her mother (Allison Janney) and grandmother’s house where she throws a temper tantrum and decides to leave town. Tammy, broke and carless, agrees to let her “Grandma Pearl” (Susan Sarandon) come along in exchange for her car and a road trip to Niagara Falls. Having Allison Janney play McCarthy’s mom and Sarandon’s daughter was a confusing mental mix of “How old are these characters supposed to be?”

Chaos ensues, in typical road trip form, with Tammy skidding the car between trees, wrecking a jet ski and ending up at a bar where Pearl hooks up with “Earl” (Gary Cole), who is called an “old man” at the very elderly age of 57. The film begins to gain life when “Bobby” (Mark Duplass), Earl’s farm boy son, accompanies his father to the bar and starts a cute flirtation with wild and overly confident Tammy. From there, the grandmother-granddaughter trip continues with Kathy Bates coming along as Pearl’s cousin, throwing a festive, lesbian Fourth of July party where family drama and repressed feelings come to a head, giving Tammy the little bit of heart it needs to bring it back down to earth.

McCarthy and Duplass have enough chemistry to make me want a movie solely about them, and less about alcoholic Pearl, her stint in jail, their road trip antics, and cameos of actors like Dan Akroyd and Sandra Oh whose talents are wasted with such little to do. Although many scenes drag and fail to progress the story, there are a few gems placed in the film solely so McCarthy can do what she does so well and what the audience comes to see (i.e. Tammy robbing a Topper Jack’s store to get bail money for Pearl). That uproarious scene, along with some great one-liners are what save this been-there, done-that film, such as Tammy holding up a gas can, saying “Four dollars a gallon? Thanks, Obamacare.”

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One subtle scene, however, caught my eye in a way in which only TV aficionados would appreciate. At the Fourth of July party, Tammy cleans up and dresses in a form-fitting blouse with non-mangled hair … it was like seeing Sookie St. James again, the classy, smart, and relatable every-girl McCarthy played for seven years on the witty dramedy Gilmore Girls. It was as if I was seeing a familiar friend and not the “Melissa McCarthy” that has become so widely known thanks to Bridesmaids.

The untamed act she has perfected, the one that guarantees millions of ticket sales, is an undeniably funny one, but during a quiet scene of Tammy where Kathy Bates tells her she has to fight for what she wants in life, it was like all the noise and craziness of the film had fallen away and for a brief moment I got a glimpse of my old pal Sookie. For seven years it was definitive proof that Melissa McCarthy did not have to be a clueless, dirty slob to be funny and my hope for the next seven years is that moviegoers will get a chance to see that, too.

Review © Brigid K. Presecky (7/6/14)

Photo: Susan Sarandon as “Pearl” and Melissa McCarthy as “Tammy.”

Q: Does Tammy pass the Bechdel Test? DigitalStampA

Most definitely!

The entire movie is centered on Tammy’s relationship with her Grandma Pearl. Sometimes, yes, they do talk about men. But mostly they talk about life.

Tags: Ben Falcone, Melissa McCarthy, Sookie St. James, Susan Sarandon, Tammy

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