‘Tammy’ Review

Published 10 months ago by , Updated October 7th, 2014 at 1:17 am,

tammy melissa mccarthy review Tammy Review

One the whole, Tammy is yet another effective demonstration of McCarthy’s comedic abilities – but much like its protagonist, the film is too jumbled and directionless for its own good.

In Tammy, we are introduced to the film’s namesake (Melissa McCarthy) during one terrible day where she pretty much totals her car, gets fired from her job at a Topper Jack’s fast food restaurant, and goes home, only to walk in on her husband (Nat Faxon) enjoying a romantic dinner with their neighbor (Toni Collette). Fed up, Tammy packs her stuff and heads over to her parents’ place – a whopping three houses down the street – in order to borrow her mother’s (Allison Janney) car and take a road trip to… well, anywhere that isn’t her hometown, basically.

Tammy’s alcoholic grandmother, Pearl (Susan Sarandon), agrees to provide the necessary vehicle and funding, on condition that her granddaughter take her along for the ride. The duo thereafter head off to Niagara Falls – a place that Pearl has wanted to visit for some time – but quickly wind up getting sidetracked on a series of escapades during their journey. Will Tammy manage to regain control of this ill-advised (mis)adventure, and maybe fix her life while she’s at it?

tammy melissa mccarthy susan sarandon1 Tammy Review

Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon in ‘Tammy’

McCarthy has recently become a red-hot commodity in the comedy field, between her scene-stealing turn in Bridesmaids (which earned her an Oscar nomination) and leading roles in the box office hits Identity Thief and The Heat. However, Tammy is the first of her movies that she’s written in collaboration with her husband Ben Falcone (who also made his feature directorial debut here). Unfortunately, McCarthy and Falcone’s inexperience behind the camera manifests itself onscreen – resulting in a road trip comedy that’s as well-meaning, yet messy as its protagonist – albeit not necessarily in the way intended.

Falcone, as the director, shoots everything in Tammy in a clean and steady fashion, so as to create a comical juxtaposition between the characters – including McCarthy’s outlandishly disheveled, childish, protagonist – and the more grounded world that they occupy. That approach does give rise to some funny moments of visual comedy that make effective use of McCarthy’s knack for silent comedian-esque physical slapstick and misbehavior – but by and large, Falcone and the film’s director of photography Russ T. Alsobrook (Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) fail to create an engaging visual style. The final result is a movie that’s often on par with a comedy TV show in terms of its visual construction, but suffers from more awkward editing – often giving off the impression that, on the whole, Falcone didn’t really have a firm grip on the steering wheel during his first time driving.

tammy melissa mccarthy Tammy Review

Melissa McCarthy as (Criminal) Tammy

Part of the blame for the film’s clunky editing, however, should probably be attributed to the script by McCarthy and Falcone. That Tammy features a rather loosely-structured narrative – one allowing for a fair amount of improvisation (or sequences that often feel semi-improvised) – was no doubt intentional, as the hectic nature of the story is a direct reflection of its protagonist. Problem is, the film’s screenplay just doesn’t provide enough substance when it comes to fleshing out the personalities, motivations and/or backstories of the players onscreen.

As such, Tammy is a comical character study that fails to shed much light on the inner-workings of either its eponymous protagonist or her peers – and while there are small elements of satire and social commentary peppered throughout, there’s no firm through line that would’ve allowed the movie to work better as proper farce, either. It ultimately falls upon McCarthy to carry the bulk of the film on her shoulders – which she does – whether it involves showing genuine emotional vulnerability or performing Homer Simpson-esque acts of buffoonery. The film’s many shortcomings aside, Tammy once again proves that McCathy is a comedic force to be reckoned with.

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Sandra Oh and Kathy Bates in ‘Tammy’

Susan Sarandon has the most prominent role to play here outside of McCarthy, though her role mostly involves riffing on her Thelma & Louise fame and donning grey curls to play the zany, boozing, grandma archetype (which, to be fair, she does well enough). Certain other cast members also get a moment or two to shine as they bring eccentric character types to life – specifically Kathy Bates as Pearl’s explosion-loving lesbian friend, and Gary Cole as a horndog love interest for Sarandon.

Sadly, most of the other recognizable members of the supporting cast get little to do here – be it Allison Janney as Tammy’s mother, or Sandra Oh as Bates’ significant other. The exception is Mark Duplass (Safety Not Guaranteed) playing a sweet, if somewhat bland, romantic interest for McCarthy; their relationship makes for a decent inversion of the typical man-child/grown woman setup. Looking at the casting sheet, it feels a bit like McCarthy and Falcone were able to recruit a number of their actor friends for Tammy, but couldn’t find much of anything interesting for them to do in the film.

tammy melissa mccarthy mark duplass Tammy Review

Melissa McCarthy and Mark Duplass in ‘Tammy’

One the whole, Tammy is yet another effective demonstration of McCarthy’s comedic abilities – but much like its protagonist, the film is too jumbled and directionless for its own good. Still, the movie does have a fairly big heart and offers a handful of laughs, which might be enough for those moviegoers who are in the mood for some easy-breezy comedy entertainment during a summer holiday weekend. Everyone else can wait to catch this one on Redbox and look forward to McCarthy and Falcone (hopefully) doing better during their next turn at bat.


Tammy is now playing in U.S. theaters. It is 97 minutes long and is Rated R for language including sexual references.

Our Rating:

2 out of 5

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  1. every commercial for this movie makes me want to slit my wrists. It looks so unfunny and this review seems to confirm that.

    I don’t see the appeal of her. At all.

    • I agree wholeheartedly. I cannot stand this woman. She is unfunny, obnoxious, and all around just unpleasant and unentertaining. Every time I see her attempt comedy in things like this or Identity Thief it makes me so dissapointed in the human race. She is probably a very nice woman, but g****** either learn to act or pick better scripts or SOMETHING because playing the “fat schlubby criminal woman” two crappy films in a row kinda says something. Either she is a one trick pony or her agent hates her. For the love of god spare us more of this crap.

    • its not about her appeal. The review clearly states that more fault comes from the writing and the way the film was directed. To quote the review it also says “Tammy is yet another effective demonstration of McCarthy’s comedic abilities”

      So i think McCarthy performance was great and she did the best with what she was given.

      A for her

      C to the actual movie.

      • You replied to a comment that said the film looked unfunny (it does, by the way) and picked on the line at the end stating the lack of understanding regarding her appeal (which I wholeheartedly agree with)?

        That’s some A-grade blinkered commentary right there, Mosmoi.

        I’ll say it here since I won’t bother repeating it further down in the comments but Melissa McCarthy is a total turn-off for me in the same way that James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel and Adam Sandler are. I’ll never understand their appeal, I find them more irritating and annoying than funny and a movie could have the greatest plot and cast of all time and become an all-time classic but seeing any of the aforementioned names listed in the credits or seeing their faces in the trailer will guarantee that I’ll avoid the film at all costs.

    • Ditto.

      I’d rather watch 2 hours of them burning the millions of dollars they flushed on this.

  2. I have to agree. McCarthy seems to only have one type of character that she can play and although it is funny at first, seeing the same character, movie after movie, gets old fast.

    • I never found it funny honestly. Just obnoxious. However I have very little patience for fat jokes and her other “white trash” sort of humor.

    • Throw in Will Ferrel and Adam Sandler and you will have the ultimate in trying too hard unfunny comedians that somehow make money and films. The cacophony of silence in the theater would be deafening.

      • Add in Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, and Michael Cera to that as well. They all do the same old act that it’s not funny anymore. I give credit to Jonah Hill and James Franco for at least venturing out and trying new things(and being successful). Maybe they can all do a This Is The End sequel, LOL

  3. I don’t get McCarthy’s appeal either. Never found her funny at all…only slightly amusing at times in Bridesmaids.

    This is another example of someone in Hollywood liking her and trying to put her in everything. Just another example of Hollywood giving us what they think we want and not what we are asking for. Hopefully, she will fall out of the limelight soon…and maybe we can laugh at her on Biggest Loser or Celebrity Rehab.

  4. I just watched her in the Backup Plan and Life as We know It and I thought she was pretty good in those films because those characters were more subdued then in her other films.
    I believe that this lady is extremely talented and funny, but she needs to get away from the over the top fat jokes that she seems to always play in her movies.

    • She is great in Mike & Molly, and I do think she is a very talented actress. But playing a klutzy and obnoxious character in her films has made me grow tired of her.

  5. I agree with about everything yall say but you got to youtube the snl basketball sketch she’s hilarious in that

    • i think a whole movie base on her is too much, they need to put her with more characters so each one has they own situations

  6. Let me get this straight; this movie is ripped apart for so-called bad writing, and non-developed, seldom used characters, still has funny scenes in it, and it gets a TWO? Meanwhile….
    TRANSFORMERS 4 is a ridiculous mess of explosions and nonsense that is universally panned by critics, and it gets a 3.5? Awww. Melissa must not have gotten that check out to screenrant on time. We should get her M. Bay’s number, so he can tell her how it’s done.

    • LOL, now that’s funny

    • Ziiinng

    • Actually transformers 4 showed vast improvement over the other three in most of the areas where they were bad. It is still an overly long film, but much more enjoyable than the other ones ever were. I believe improvement of any kind should be given a more favorable review than “Farting Fatties 704: Fart Harder” What I am saying is that this piece of cinematic feces got a worse review than Transformers is because Transformers was an improvement over its predecessors and this is a step backward for this comedian.

    • Hard to argue with that, Jen. I’ll never understand how one bad film gets 2 and another gets 3.5, it’s pretty preposterous. Opinions differ, of course, one critic may like a film that another doesn’t and that’s reasonable, I just hope that this debacle brings in some kind of means testing when you have multiple reviewers to compensate because you could have someone who loves McCarthy’s work giving this film 4 stars and get called out for it by the readership who disagree with the final rating and clearly, that kind of thing will never work on a film site without wondering if personal bias played into the score.

      Not accusing anyone, by the way, just offering a little insight as an outsider. It’d be like asking me what I thought of the opening night I attended on July 1st for Monty Python Live (Mostly) and receiving my 5 star review without question while knowing that I’m a fan of that kind of comedy and of the Pythons in particular. I’d be (quite rightly) accused of personal bias and my rating would be questioned on that basis.

      I’m not saying everyone who writes for this site has to see every film available but figuring out a means test to get an average score would eliminate any potential accusations and remove the personal bias.

    • #screenranttransformers4review2014neva4get

  7. Sooo…Identity Thief without the identity theft?