Written by Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone
Directed by Ben Falcone
Opens July 2
I’m not bothered by the fact that IMDb gives Tammy a wretched 4.5/10 or that film critics will only sheepishly admit they liked it. As far as summer guilty pleasures go, Tammy’s alright and there is nothing wrong with it. Sure its lowbrow. Sure it’s silly and foul mouthed but it’s also a triumph of “personality”.
Co-written by star Melissa McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone, it is tailor made to showcase a lively, offhand charm that has made her a TV star (Mike & Molly) and one of the most financially valuable female comics in today’s market. McCarthy has that indefinable “it”, that elusive star quality on which movies have depended for more than 100 years to survive.
It’s a rare quality that works when camera meets character. There was the original It Girl Clara Bow, and Carole Lombard, Gingers Rogers, Lucille Ball and more recently George Clooney, Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep and a few others. Stars’ appealing personalities put them across. McCarthy has it to spare. It is well served in Tammy as it was in Bridesmaids but not so well in the mean-spirited Identity Thief and The Heat. McCarthy has an endearing manner and a mighty screen presence that works best nice not nasty.
She plays opposite. Tammy’s bad luck’s piling up. She’s been fired from her fast food service job (by her real husband Falcone) and comes home to find her movie husband (Nat Faxon) “entertaining” their next door neighbour (Toni Collette). Tammy’s run out of money which she needs to run away. Inspiration strikes, she puts a fast food bag over her head, builds a paper gun with another and blasts her way into her old workplace, demanding pie and money.
Tammy takes her pill-popping profane grandmother played by Susan Sarandon, who offers ready cash, and hits the road. Their adventures take them from lesbian fairs to nursing homes to Niagara Falls in breathtaking succession. Tammy’s learning to deal and granny’s hooking up at bars.
One of the film’s charming elements is the stars’ relaxed attitudes about appearance. There is no pretense at glam; they wear mostly t-shirts and shorts, and shawls. Sarandon is gloriously frumpy – how the hell did they do that???? – And McCarthy’s just joyously unconcerned. Now that’s star power. First of all, playing real and having the cojones to let hair go humid, eschew makeup and weigh whatever the heck you want to weigh. It’s incredibly liberating and let’s face it, neither of these ladies needs varnishing to be powerful and appealing because both have “it”.
The best moments are the hysterical scenarios that McCarthy runs with so well. The pie incident, her attempted seduction of the son of the man her grandmother is diddling. Not to give anything away but McCarthy does the best “I’m not fired, I quit” bit probably in film history.
Don’t let anyone tell you it’s a 4.5. Tammy is authentically entertaining and McCarthy and Sarandon are total queens and you’ll fall in love.