The star is over the top, sure, but she’s got support.
As the disheveled title character of Tammy, we quickly meet Melissa McCarthy at her slapstick, madcap, steal-the-show craziest.
She’s tooling a country road in a beat-up Toyota, grooving to a power ballad coming from a boom box as old as the song when she meets a deer.
She takes to her knees in horror at what she has wrought. She ponders mouth to mouth to bring the deer back.
Not even the prone animal can hijack the scene from McCarthy when it suddenly springs to life and canters off into the field, much to her relief.
The day gets worse and McCarthy’s tizzy escalates. Her boss at work, played by real life husband Ben Falcone (think her Air Marshal fantasy in Bridesmaids) fires her. She returns home to find her church mouse husband, played by Nat Faxon, doing too much at dinner with a neighbor lady played by Toni Collette. So she gathers clothes and walks two doors down to mom’s house. Mom, played by Allison Janney, has had enough of her pouting, but grandma, played by Susan Sarandon, overhears the fight and offers her car and a wad of cash if granddaughter takes her off on the great escape.
Co-written by McCarthy and hubby Falcone and directed by Falcone, there’s no doubt that McCarthy’s meant to be the driver of this metaphorical bus as the summer comedy caper continues as a crazy lady hauling crazier granny toward Niagara Falls, as dysfunctional family vacation, as Thelma and Puh-leeze don’t let poor Tammy get any more over the top.
See the trailer here:
But the funny thing is, really, the best thing about the movie is when it comes out, little by little, that granny really does drink too much, doesn’t take her meds, and needs her granddaughter’s help. And that Tammy, little by little, comes to grips with the fact that maybe, just maybe, it’s not just that life has dealt her a bad hand. Maybe, just maybe, her own behavior has had something to do with the repeated bites in the backside she seems to receive.
Oh, McCarthy is the star, all right.
You can’t take your eyes off her when she sticks a fast food bag over her head, puts another on her hand, and robs that same joint of just enough cash to bail granny out of jail. And, oh, yes, throw some pies in there while you’re at it, too, she asks the two workers, whom she badly wants to like her.
There are several small but vital parts that add to the drama in the summer comedy.
Kathy Bates and Sandra Oh stand out as a lesbian couple that helps Tammy discover that she’s got to woman up and help her grandmother. Gary Cole is wicked as an equally drunk bar fly who beds wanton Granny. Mark Duplass is quietly steady as his son, who must babysit his dad while showing Tammy that she may have a good quality or two. And Dan Aykroyd is bigger than life as Tammy’s dad, ready to snuff out her beady-eyed husband for cheating on her.
But the best chemistry always comes from McCarthy and Sarandon, Tammy and Granny, whether they be fighting or making up.
They decide they’re not perfect, but they can live with it. Tammy isn’t the best comedy to almost go over the falls in a barrel, but, hey, it has its moments.
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Mark Bialczak is a veteran journalist who has lived in the Syracuse area since 1983. In early 2013, he was set free to write about whatever he wants. Click here to read Mark’s BLOG.