When did Melissa McCarthy morph into Will Ferrell?!?!?!? Tammy feels like a character he created complete with the unjustifiable exuberance and questionable intelligence that can make you laugh and cringe.
McCarthy applies her skills to portray Tammy – a somewhat dim woman having the worst day of her life, and reacting in the wrong way. She has been fired from her job, and, upon returning home, discovers her husband is having an affair. With no reason to stay around this small town anymore, Tammy instantly and impulsively decides to set off and escape from everything she has ever known in this small town. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a car or money.
However, her grandmother, Pearl (Susan Sarandon), has a car, some cash and a similar wanderlust. Now, the two are off on what was promised to be a zany adventure.
Why do we have to stomach so many broken promises?
McCarthy co-wrote Tammy with hubby and director Ben Falcone, so you have to imagine this is some sort of passion project for the two of them. Passion for what is the big question.
Tammy suffers from the age old problem of having mismatched and muddled tones. On the one hand, this is supposed to be a crazy, outrageous comedy about one of society’s outcasts. It’s territory heartily explored by Will Ferrell (who also acts as a producer of this film), but Tammy fails to commit.
McCarthy can be outrageous. McCarthy can be funny. McCarthy can be an outcast. However, Falcone and McCarthy try too hard to rein it in and make Tammy a sympathetic figure. We get allusions to a troubled upbringing and all sorts of family secrets that could explain her personality and life path, but none of it is fleshed out enough to matter, and only serves to set up a joke here and there.
The sweet stuff doesn’t feel like it goes together with the crazy stuff. Instead of eliciting sympathy from the audience, attempts to get poignant flop and make Tammy melancholy, which is not what everyone is hoping for in this movie billed as a crazy comedy for the holiday weekend. Falcone and McCarthy need to provide more heart or forget heart and be hilarious. They are caught in that horrible in between place that ruins movies and haunts ticket buyers.
Sadly, even the hilarious feels forced. McCarthy is so good, she has moments where she delivers a line in such a perfect way, you laugh, but it feels more like her acting and comedic abilities save her from her writing ability. At other times, she is trying to create something out of nothing at all, and that so rarely works.
Tammy has some funny moments, but it needs more development to be good.
Tammy is rated R for language including sexual references.