Monday, September 1, 2014

Tammy - 2014

"Tammy" - 2014
Dir. by Ben Falcone - 1 hr. 37 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

You know, it's not just that they were in "Identity Thief" together, but Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman seem to occupy the exact same role in filmdom right now: this is who gets to churn out comedy after comedy right now.  I'm sure someone else will come along before long to take over this workhorse role, but it kind of feels like both McCarthy and Bateman have something coming out every three months, like clockwork.  That's not a bad thing, even if the premises of these films are broad and somewhat uninspired.  Instead, you get to see films rise and fall more on the individual abilities of the stars, and that's not a bad thing when you're in McCarthy's (or Bateman's) hands.  "Tammy" is another film in this line.  It's neither great nor awful, not particularly inspired, but is another chance to watch a talented comedian do their thing for an hour and a half.

Tammy (Melissa McCarthy) is an unfortunate loser on a particularly bad day; she wrecks her car into some wildlife, which makes her late for work, which gets her fired from her fast-food job, which lets her return home early, only to find her husband, Greg (Nat Faxon), wooing a neighbor, Missi (Toni Collette).  She storms off to her mother's (Allison Janney) home, and ends up embarking on a road-trip to Niagara Falls with her grandmother, Pearl (Susan Sarandon).  And then (and previously, also), comedy happens.

Positives first!  Melissa McCarthy is really funny, and although this probably isn't the most kind comparison, I couldn't help but think of Chris Farley when watching her in "Tammy."  It's a compliment, I swear.  McCarthy is capable of playing crass, dumb, chaotic, and arrogant, but still has a likability to her that make you want to root for her.  In recent years, there haven't been m/any actresses that have been able to pull off a buffoon role without the assistance of a push-up bra.  That's how strong her comedic gifts are.  There's a stick-up scene that I'm not sure many other people could pull off, other than her.  And beyond that, there's a ton of assistance from the rest of the cast.  Susan Sarandon is always great in comedies, and this is no different.  Gary Cole seems to be reprising his "Ricky Bobby" persona here, with Mark Duplass playing his put-upon son who falls for Tammy.  Kathy Bates is also good in a smaller role.

But this being one of a string of somewhat generic comedic premises, there's not a ton of assistance from the plot.  Comedies don't always need a coherent plot to excel, they just need to provide bridges from one scene to another.  There aren't enough great comic scenes in this film to hold the entire tent up, though.  The best one is the aforementioned stick-up scene - that's pure gold.  Otherwise, there are a lot of scenes that are pretty funny, and the film moves along quickly and comfortably.  There's just not much that's must-see; instead there's a lot of stuff that works well enough because you're already there.

So "Tammy" is pretty good.  It's not great, but it's fun, and there's a billion familiar faces in it.  I waited to see it at a second-run theatre, which felt about right.  I'd have expected a lot more out of a comedy for $10 than I do for $3, which is why I often see comedies at a second-run theatre.  The lowered expectations work in a comedy's favor, as does getting to see one with an audience instead of by myself, late at night on my TV.  I can't imagine people being disappointed in "Tammy," even if you're not blown away, it's still solid comedy product.  I just keep hoping for another "Bridesmaids"-level comedy for McCarthy before the next Jason Bateman (or Sandra Bullock, for a more fair comparison) comes along and starts churning out their generic comedies, and McCarthy's start coming less frequently.  "Tammy" succeeds because of McCarthy's talents and the good-will she's able to create from her audience.  I'd love to see that put to better use.

2.5 / 5 - Theatre

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