Review: Tammy

Tammy unfortunately joins Melissa McCarthy's ever-expanding list of post-Bridesmaids misfires (leaving only The Heat as the one solidly entertaining film). Despite a premise that would make a genuinely sweet indie drama, Tammy leans too heavily on comic stylings, yet results in a near laugh-free event.

Forty-something Tammy (McCarthy) loses her car, her job and her husband all in one day, and decides to leave town. Unable to fund this escape herself, Tammy brings along her alcoholic Grandmother (Susan Sarandon) - however, Tammy faces a new-found responsibility as she turns baby-sitter for her troublemaking Grandmother.

After seeing the trailer for Tammy which sees the character rob a fast food restaurant, I reluctantly prepared for another McCarthy vehicle - where the actress played stupid and clumsy, with an emphasis on physical comedy. However, later reading synopses and cast interviews for the project - it appeared that this 'comic-heavy' trailer might have just been a draw to get audiences into a film which actually sounded more like an indie-dramedy. Alas, I was wrong as Tammy fails to hit its mark as both a comedy or drama - with a strange inability to fully connect in either two areas.

This should have been a chance for McCarthy to flex her dramatic chops as we see this emotionally juvenile woman face up to the responsibility of caring for her alcoholic grandmother. Instead we are simply faced with an array of predictable comic set-pieces and tired crude dialogue, taking presidence over the more affecting emotional drama. Moments where Tammy does lean more heavily to the dramatic are when the film shines. A scene which sees Tammy heart-broken when her Grandmother mocks her in a drunken spectacle at a party is utterly heartbreaking. Later, a sequence where Tammy believes that her Grandmother has died is equally devastating and showcases a new emotionally raw side to McCarthy.

The joke is wearing thin fast: we know McCarthy can do the emotionally-stunted shitkicker role to perfection, but here the material is so lacklustre than it barely raises over the odd titter. Paired with an unfocused plot that tries too hard to tick all the boxes, yet ends up never fully ticking any: Tammy is a disappointment. I mean, how can a film that boasts a supporting turn by Kathy Bates as an explosion-loving lesbian fail to raise a few substantial laughs.

Sarandon remains a watchable and engaging screen-presence (albeit one that is far too glamorous to be playing anyone's Grandmother), yet here it is never clear how we should feel about her character. Moments of sweetness see the pair bond, but these are paired with moments of cruelty and vindictiveness (on Grandmother's part) - further juggling Tammy's uneven tone.

There is a lot of wasted promise in Tammy. Instead of relying on heavy-handed comedy, it would have been refreshing if Tammy centred more on its dramatic attributes - as when it does, this is a film that really shines. 

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