Tammy is the latest offering by co-writers Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone. This is a story dominated by its female characters in an attempt to depict those utterly ridiculous moments in life, where you realise you have completely lost control over what is happening to you and the only way to move on is to act just as ridiculously.
Tammy follows McCarthy’s protagonist, as she overcomes her own flaws and radically changes her life after she loses her job and realises her husband is no longer interested in her, all in one day. The film is based on the comedy style Melissa McCarthy has become known and loved for in previous TV and big screen performances. Hers is a type of comedy that never spares you the ugly details of the characters’ minds and would bravely explore their rude or even offensive traits. She has featured in comedies Bridesmaids and the Hangover Part III and in 2013 she paired up with Sandra Bullock’s rigid FBI agent Ashburn in Paul Feig’s The Heat as noisy street cop Mullins.
This is exactly what we expect to happen in Tammy from the moment we see her speeding to work, bursting in and having an argument with her superior Keith. From then on it’s an avalanche of misfortunes for Tammy, whose life brings on a mishap after a mishap, leaving us waiting for a funny one-liner from McCarthy that never arrives.
…what could have been a number of interesting and strong female characters…
Even when characters such as alcoholic and diabetic rebel grandmother Pearl (Susan Sarandon) or couple Lenore and Susanne (Kathy Bates and Sandra Oh) are introduced, the plot remains just as chaotic. This is because in its limited runtime of 96 minutes the film tries to do too much by both following Tammy’s life-changing transition and developing what could have been a number of interesting and strong female characters. The film never makes up its mind of its aims just as Pearl and Tammy are never clear on where they are actually going once they leave Tammy’s family house. While it opens with a series of disastrous events for its protagonist, the constant conflicts between grandmother and granddaughter suggest this may also be a story about the overcoming of the differences and secrets separating several generations of women. Nevertheless, the dialogue between McCarthy and Sarandon remains playful entertaining us in between key plot moments (some of which feature wild animals of peculiar behaviour).
In addition to all this, a romantic prospect recurs throughout the film as Mark Duplass’s Bobby, who somehow takes a liking to Tammy, but the exchanges between the two seem sketchy and lacking depth. This leaves us wondering how things would have developed if Pearl hadn’t taken control over some aspects of Tammy’s love life.
…a comedy which is always about to start…
Despite the attempts of other characters like Sarandon’s Pearl and Bates’s Lenore to deliver memorable comic performances, Tammy is a comedy which is always about to start. However, it never does and is instead awkward and incoherent. Although Tammy comes to terms with this particularly bumpy period of her life, the motivation of how she manages that remains unclear.