In theaters Wednesday, July 2
1 1/2 stars (out of 4 stars)
Dear Melissa McCarthy,
This is a career intervention. You're a hilarious and fearless actress with an Oscar nomination, box office clout and gazillions of fans. But your latest outing, a labor of love called Tammy, is a dangerous step backward. Clunky and aimless, it's quite possibly the hottest mess of the year.
And it needs to never ever happen again.
Most disappointing: As the film's co-writer and co-producer, your fingerprints are all over this crime scene. Which means that the title character — a foul-mouthed and clumsy fast-food worker who only speaks at high volumes — is on you. So pathetic is Tammy that on the same day that she hits a deer with her clunker of a car and gets fired from her minimum wage job and catches her husband cheating on her with a neighbor and then proceeds to pack up her stuff, the handle on her suitcase breaks and her clothes fall over the floor. Ha?
To escape her problems, Tammy hits the road with her equally obnoxious and bored grandma Pearl. Grandma is played by Susan Sarandon, and she dresses in pastels and wears a fright wig. The casting here is plain peculiar. Assuming Betty White and Cloris Leachman weren't available, there's no reason why she couldn't just play your mom. Tammy jokingly describes her as being 100 years old, though she apparently did it back in the day with '70s rocker Duane Allman.
Every moment of Tammy and Pearl's endless drive through the heartland is visible from 100 miles away. Pearl likes the booze and the men . . . because alcoholic old ladies with healthy sex drives are apparently always comedy gold. Cut to a scene in the bar in which she slobbers all over a local and has loud sex in the back seat of the car. Cash-strapped and disgruntled Tammy, meanwhile, stages a haphazard robbery at her former fast-food joint — only to flail trying to jump across the counter and having trouble locking the staffers in the fridge.
It's not funny. None of it is. Not you crashing a jet-ski or you pounding a vending machine until the powdered donuts fall out. Only the most juvenile of moviegoers want to see a heroine fall on her face over and over physically and emotionally. Bad enough that Pearl selfishly kicks Tammy out of the motel room one night and she must sleep on cement — a raccoon also has to nibble on her face. And that's before Grandma calls her "a fat loser." To her face. At a party. In front of hundreds of people. Melissa, do you even like Tammy? After all, when you finally get to kiss your drip of a crush (Mark Duplass), the camera immediately pulls back to the point where ants could play your stunt doubles!
As you proved in Bridesmaids and on Saturday Night Live and, heck, in Gilmore Girls, your talent stretches far beyond silly pratfalls and cheap humor. (It's not a good sign when a throwaway joke about Obamacare earns the loudest laugh.) You don't have to resort to shouting and pouty faces and a makeover scene. But there's hope. Your character Megan in Bridesmaids put it perfectly: You're the problem and the solution. So for your next endeavor, please create or pick a well-rounded, smart character that will make us smile — not sigh and look at our watches. It's either you or CGI robots every summer, and we much prefer you.