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Movie Review: “Tammy”

Movie Review: “Tammy”
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Crass, brash, arrogant and boorish, Melissa McCarthy’s latest screen persona Tammy doesn’t deviate too much from Mullins in “The Heat”, Diana in “Identity Thief”, or Megan in “Bridesmaids”. The lack of originality is starting to wear thin. McCarthy risks becoming the female Will Ferrell, both of them actors who can’t tear themselves away from playing childish, petulant adults who are stuck in arrested development. Tammy is as idiotic and immature as Ricky Bobby or Ron Burgundy but without the good hair.

It’s no surprise then that Will Ferrell and his partner Adam McKay are the producers behind this loosely sketched, badly executed comedy that sloppily rides the coat-tails of McCarthy’s success in better work.  This is her “Semi-Pro” to “Anchorman”…a rushed hack job that trades on lazy sight gags and road-trip cliches in order to cash in on her current popularity.

McCarthy plays a frizzy haired, junk food-eating, Crocs and socks-wearing, fast-food restaurant worker who gets fired when she sasses her officious boss (Ben Falcone, who is married to the star and co-wrote the script with her. He directed too).   She has totaled her car in a run-in with a deer and this opening scene, of Tammy attempting mouth to mouth on the animal, almost rises to the level of funny. It’s the weak highlight of the following dreary 90 minutes. Arriving home, she finds her husband wining and dining their neighbor (Toni Collette, who has inexplicably taken a role with practically no dialogue and no discernible personality). Recalling Steve Martin in “The Jerk” (but much less skillfully), Tammy tries to save face by gathering up her stuff and storming out, only to go two doors down to her mum’s house.

Allison Janney, in another underwritten role, lives with her mother, the spry and saucy Grandma Pearl, played with an almost desperate need to appeal to the Apatowan generation by Susan Sarandon. We could talk about how brave she is to eschew makeup, fine hair styling and a chic wardrobe. Really she is just brave to appear in this rubbish.

Grandma and Tammy hit the road and a series of hi-jinks ensues. Tammy rides a jetski. Tammy crashes a jetski. Tammy holds up a burger joint. Tammy hangs out with some lesbians. Grandma hooks up with Earl (Gary Cole) who conveniently has a kindly, handsome son (Mark Duplass). Once Tammy has her hair ironed and finds a better outfit, it’s pretty obvious where this is going.

One scene made me giggle. With a heavy debt to “This is Spinal Tap”, Tammy and Pearl sing “Midnight Rider” by the Allman Brothers, with Tammy directing her grandmother to “go low”. Other than that, the humor is one-note. Tammy is sexually aggressive, strutting with the confidence of a prize cock. We’re supposed to find it hilarious that a large, gauche woman could think she’s worthy of attention from cute men. If Falcone and McCarthy hadn’t written this themselves, I would be offended. As it is, I was simply bored and disappointed.


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