Melissa McCarthy has gone from getting nominated for an Academy Award thanks to her breakout role in “Bridesmaids,” to a slew of hits in 2013 that were “Identity Thief” and “The Heat.” Now she, along with her husband/collaborator Ben Falcone, have written the screenplay for the newest R rated comedy “Tammy.” McCarthy stars as the titular character, while Falcone takes his turn in the director’s chair. Bring in a stellar supporting cast including Susan Surandon and Kathy Bates, and have Will Ferrell and Adam McKay producing the film, and the overall result is something I didn’t expect upon walking in. While I got the comedy that was advertised in the numerous trailers and TV spots, I also got a lot of heart added into the mix, particularly between Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon’s characters. And through this heart, we the audience got to see an emotional side of McCarthy that we only got a little snippet of in “Identity Thief.” However while her emotions and her presence were wasted in “Thief,” they’re not wasted whatsoever in “Tammy.” For that alone, I can’t help but recommend this movie with a big smile on my face.
If you’ve ever had a day where nothing goes right for you, then you’ll relate to the opening 10 minutes of “Tammy.” Tammy has her car break down thanks to a deer, is fired from her job at a fast food joint, and finds her husband cheating on her with another woman. (That last thing is more implied, as we don’t actually see anyone in physical embrace) Tammy can do only one thing in order to cope with her horrendous day, and that is to get out of town for a little while, which her mother does not approve of. Tammy’s grandmother, on the other hand, sees this as her sole opportunity to leave the clutches of her overbearing daughter. So the grandmother and granddaughter embark on a wacky trip all eventually ending up at Niagara Falls. That is, if their actions and shenanigans don’t prevent them from doing so.
I applaud Melissa McCarthy for not only embracing her weight and using it in her comedy, but also being able to write a story with her husband that is as sweet and heartfelt as it is funny. When the jokes hit in this movie, they really hit hard. When the drama of the film came on screen, it was believable and brought sympathy out of me for this unlucky but quirky character. Not only was the script really solid, apart from its scattered subpar jokes and its cliched formulas, but Melissa McCarthy also gave a great performance. In fact, I’d say that this is the best performance of her career thus far. Not only does she give some of her funniest work to date, but she also shows how capable she is to be a serious actress.
Equally as good as McCarthy in the film is Susan Sarandon as Tammy’s alcoholic grandmother. Sarandon shows here how hilarious she can be while still giving a committed and full-out performance, which works really well in the more dramatic moments of the film. Not to mention, her chemistry with McCarthy is great, showing how great they get along together and how much they get on each others nerves. Other performances that shine in the film include Mark Duplass, Gary Cole, and Kathy Bates in a rather small but hilarious role. Actors that are top-billed on the poster but are only in the film for 5, maybe 10 minutes tops, include the likes of Toni Collette, Dan Aykroyd, and Allison Janney. Their presences didn’t really add to the film whatsoever, which made me question why they were here in the first place. Oh well, McCarthy and Sarandon stole the film, and Mark Duplass and Gary Cole had some very funny and touching moments with them as well.
Overall, I enjoyed “Tammy” a lot more than I thought I was going to. Not only is is very funny for the most part, but it also has a really strong heart in it that’s elevated by the performances from Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon. Sure the movie is predictable, some jokes don’t work as well as others, and certain stars in the film aren’t used as much as you’d think, but this is a summer comedy that is well worth your time. It’s not as meta as something like “22 Jump Street,” nor is it as funny as “Neighbors,” but its heart really makes up for all of that. I really hope that Melissa McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone continue to work together on writing and directing films in the future, because it seems like they know how to write a fun but sweet dramady that people can relate to.
OVERALL GRADE: 8.5/10