Take a Drink: every time Tammy curses or uses hand gestures to curse someone out.
Take a Drink: every time Pearl takes a drink or pops a pill.
Do a Shot: when Pearl gets laid.
Shotgun a Beer: for the Lesbian Fourth of July party, just because.
By: Amelia Solomon (Four Beers) –
Cashing in on her recent box-office successes, Melissa McCarthy stars in Tammy, a film that is strictly a vehicle for her to showcase her comedic talents and prove that she can single-handedly carry her own movie. Tammy was co-written by Melissa McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone, and Falcone also served as director. It’s important to note that neither Falcone nor McCarthy have any prior feature film writing or directing credits.
Tammy (Melissa McCarthy) gets fired from her job as a fast food worker at Topper Jack’s and comes home to find that her husband has been having an affair with her neighbor. Without much thought, Tammy decides to leave town but when her mother Deb (Allison Janney) refuses to loan Tammy her car, she reluctantly agrees to let her grandmother Pearl (Susan Sarandon) accompany her on her road-trip. Pearl contributes her Cadillac and over six grand in cash to Tammy’s spontaneous excursion. The two set their sights on Niagara Falls, but end up spending a lot of time in Louisville, Kentucky instead.
There’s a reason why Melissa McCarthy has shot to stardom in the past few years. She has a successful sitcom, Mike and Molly, which just finished its fifth season. She practically stole the show in her breakthrough performance in Bridesmaids. She went toe to toe with Jason Bateman in Identity Thief and played off straight woman Sandra Bullock in The Heat perfectly. None of these were a fluke. Melissa McCarthy is not afraid to use physical comedy or play on stereotypes. She knows her strengths, and whether it’s pratfalls or improvisation she garners laughs from the audience with no problem. In fact, I can’t remember anyone in recent history using both her body and mouth to the degree that McCarthy does. Her performances make me recall John Candy and it’s not just because of the obvious correlation of their statures. It’s because McCarthy’s antics can be ridiculous, but they still work. To compare her to the person who made us laugh in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Uncle Buck, and Who’s Harry Crumb? is the highest compliment I can bestow on her.
Although this is very much McCarthy’s movie, Sarandon plays an integral part and some of the funniest lines in Tammy are actually uttered by her character Pearl. Taking a break from more serious roles, Sarandon lets loose and doesn’t get lost in any of her scenes with McCarthy. It’s almost like Sarandon has come full circle. Her breakout role in Thelma & Louise was also a road-trip movie, although it had a much darker premise. But one can’t help but think of that film as Sarandon rides shotgun in McCarthy’s buddy comedy.
The biggest problem with Tammy is the fact that the film lacks a premise. This issue can be traced back to the script itself, and I wonder what could have been if someone like Kristen Wiig or Katie Dippold penned Tammy. I have an uneasy feeling that McCarthy and Falcone locked themselves in a room and came up with great sketch pieces, that they then had to string together into a film. A husband and wife writing team is a very insular approach, and in the case of Tammy this was a real negative. Even if they just stuck to the basics and relied on a Screenwriting 101 class, they would have had a more solid film, one with an actual plot. The only thing that was done correctly was the inciting incident and the happy ending. Unfortunately, they forgot to give their main character an actual goal. What resulted was a road-trip with no known destination and hence a film with no focus.
It’s hard to determine if Director Ben Falcone would have been more successful had the script been more polished, and by that I mean he would have had to turn a turd into Kim Kardashian’s next engagement ring. But either way, the fault with direction lies on him. There were scenes that seemed unnecessary. They served no purpose for the weak storyline but to simply showcase his wife’s agility in pratfalls. They distracted from the already lackluster story and felt like I was viewing McCarthy’s first sizzle reel. In other parts of the film, some of the scenes dragged on way too long. When McCarthy and Sarandon have dinner at a BBQ joint, I actually felt like I was stuck on my own shitty boring childhood vacation. Scenes like this interrupt the comedic flow and do nothing to move the premise of visiting Niagara Falls forward. Wait, did someone owe the NY Tourism Board a favor? Because why else would one pin an entire film on visiting a site that was super cool back in the early 1980’s?
Besides a shoddy script, and direction that was looser than Tara Reid at the next Sharknado wrap party, Tammy really struggled with falling into a specific comedic genre. It’s marketed as a straight comedy, but there are elements of romantic comedy and weepy family drama peppered throughout. Tammy has a pseudo love interest and their forced chemistry was almost unbearable to watch. Sarandon’s character Pearl is a diabetic and an alcoholic. What starts off as humorous, when she carries around a bottle of Whiskey in her purse, eventually turns eerily pathetic, when she gets arrested while trying to make a whiskey Slurpee at a convenience store. Simply put, alcoholism is not funny. Unless you’re watching Steve-O staple a sign to his own ass.
It’s awesome to see McCarthy ride the wave of success into her very own home movie project ,Tammy. But it would have been even more of a feat if the film was gut-wrenchingly hilarious. Maybe she’s at the level now where it doesn’t matter if it’s actually good. But I’d love to be able to quote lines from her films years from now, because that is when you know you’ve made a classic.
Who doesn’t love a hot tub scene with an old man in a Speedo after the credits roll, and if you wait a bit longer you’ll see an outtake scene too.