Movie Review - Tammy

In the TV series Louie, there was an episode titled "So Did the Fat Lady" where Louie meets an overweight waitress who comes onto him, much to Louie's reluctance. I criticized the episode because it felt derivative of stuff that Melissa McCarthy has done, but only the episode was told from Louie's perspective instead of the girl's perspective. This film answers that criticism.

Melissa McCarthy stars as the titular character, Tammy, a fast food employee who has an incredibly bad or incredibly unlucky day. It spurs her into a road trip to Niagra Falls with her boozy grandmother Pearl, played by Susan Sarandon.

Last year, McCarthy was paired with Sandra Bullock in The Heat in what was a brilliant coupling. When you imagine with whom McCarthy would be paired next, Sarandon as her grandma is probably least on a list that would most likely have Tina Fey or Amy Poehler at the top. If anyone was going to play her grandma, you'd assume Betty White or June Squibb from Nebraska.

Sarandon is a veteran actress, but she's not that old. Considering it's a road trip movie, perhaps McCarthy who co-wrote the screenplay and was one of the producers wanted to draw comparisons to Thelma & Louise (1991), but without all the attempted rape and murder. Yet, McCarthy and Sarandon do have great chemistry and bounce nicely off each other.

Unlike with Bullock in The Heat, McCarthy is not as overbearing or as over-powering. In that movie, it felt like McCarthy could or would defeat her screen partner in every conceivable way. Obviously, that's the way the character was written. Here, Sarandon is more of a match and in fact it seems as if Sarandon could or would kick McCarthy's ass in every conceivable way.

McCarthy's Tammy is strong but perhaps is more flawed than her recent characters. She has lower self-esteem and is more socially awkward. She's also less intelligent. Sometimes, it's a wonder if she's just being argumentative over tidbits that she just happens not to know or is mistaken over, but no! The overall sense is that Tammy isn't too bright.

Yet, she's not dumb. She's very observant, which allows her to make great jokes. She apparently has her blind spots though. She splits from her husband, played by Nat Faxon, because she's blind to what's happening in her marriage. At least, that's what we assume since we don't see any of Tammy's relationship with Nat Faxon.

It establishes that she perhaps has a blind spot or a weakness for men in whom she's interested. She doesn't realize it at first because with a couple of men in a bar she approaches with the utmost confidence and even aggression. She just assumes she could get any man. It's probably over-compensation for recent failings.

It's interesting to analyze the relationship that Tammy eventually has with Bobby, played by Mark Duplass, because it seems as if he's not attracted to her initially. His reaction, which is cold, might be an over-reaction to her coming-on so strong at first sight, but it's odd because Tammy, as well as the audience, is never quite sure if he likes her. He slowly does come around.

Duplass gets to be the cute, nice guy who pops in every now and then. With the exception of him and Allison Janney who plays Tammy's mom, all the other cast members get a good comedic moment. Whether it's Kathy Bates as the lesbian who loves to burn things or whether it's Dan Akroid and his offer outside a jail that could get him put in jail, the various actors get their moments. Even lesser known actors like a pair of fast food employees who get robbed are hilarious in their brief time on screen.

It's not incredibly insightful or that much of a good character study. At the end of the day, it's a female bonding film between a down-on-her-luck woman and her alcoholic grandmother. It's funny. It's sweet, and it breezes along. McCarthy turns in a really good performance, and that's all I needed.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated R for language including sexual references.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 37 mins.


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