What happens when you have the worst day ever and there’s nothing you can do to fix it? Do you stay or do you leave town to have a new adventure? What happens when you get more than you bargained for? That’s part of the premise behind the DVD release of “Tammy,” which had one woman struggling to find meaning in her life after a series of misfortunes. The movie showed some early promise, but its lack of focus sometimes made it hard to like the parts that truly did work.
“Tammy” followed Tammy (Melissa McCarthy) as she was having a very bad day. She was running late for work and wasn’t paying attention to the road when a deer jumped out and crash into her car. As a result, the car was totalled and the deer managed to knock Tammy down as it ran away. She had to finish the drive to work in a clunker car with a smoking engine on its last legs. When she arrived to start her shift to a local burger joint, she was promptly fired by her power tripping boss (Ben Falcone). Tammy accepted the news, but she did definitely made a dramatic exit when she left the restaurant. On her way home, her car finally broke down for good and she had to walk the rest of the way home to find her husband Greg (Nat Faxon) having a romantic dinner with their neighbor Missi (Toni Collette). As a result, Tammy packed up a suitcase and walked over to her mother Deb’s (Allison Janney) house for comfort and a car. Her mother wasn’t really willing to give either, but Tammy’s grandmother Pearl (Susan Sarandon) did have a car, money and an eagerness to see Niagara Falls. Deb and Tammy both thought the trip was a bad idea, but Pearl managed to get her wish in the end. Pearl and Tammy managed to have a series of misadventures along the way that led to a detour in the opposite direction. They ended up stopping at a barbeque restaurant where they met Earl (Gary Cole) and his son Bobby (Mark Duplass). Pearl managed to hook up with Earl, while Tammy and Bobby made awkward small talk that turned into friendship as they kept running into each other. Pearl’s drinking managed to get them thrown in jail with Tammy deciding to rob a fast food restaurant to cover the bail money, which ended up being in vain due to Pearl getting the money from Bobby. In an effort to hide from police, Tammy and Pearl ended up staying with Pearl’s cousin Lenore (Kathy Bates) and her girlfriend Susanne (Sandra Oh) while the heat died down. At a Fourth of July party, some ugly family secrets were revealed before Tammy realized that she truly loved her grandmother despite all of her flaws. Unfortunately, that realization came at the worst possible time for Tammy. Will Tammy be able to get her life back on track before it’s too late?
In terms of questions, the film didn’t have many but the biggest one involved whether what story it was trying to tell. Was the film a road trip movie gone horribly wrong? Was it a family comedy between grandmother and granddaughter? Was it a romantic comedy in the making? It’s hard to say because those plot points were bounced around repeatedly and never fully determined as to what the film was trying to get across as its central story. The script should’ve chosen one or two of those plots rather than all three, because none of those plots got the true attention it deserved. Ultimately, the movie worked the best when Sarandon and McCarthy got to misbehave just a little bit. When Sarandon got involved in part of McCarthy’s fast food robbert scheme, the scene was hysterical as they tried to return the money even though the employees thought that they were there to rob the same restaurant again. The one employee’s reaction when she got the money back was priceless. The best scenes between the two mostly involved McCarthy’s Tammy being the wild one and Sarandon playing the straight woman who managed to earn laughs without having to go too over the top to get her point across. The scene where Sarandon’s revealed to Tammy that she had an affair with one of the Allman Brothers was good fun to watch as she worked hard to keep a straight face as she told Tammy the news. The stories that could’ve been left out were the family dysfunctional secrets being revealed at the worst possible times. Some of the secrets were a little squirm inducing to watch as each particular scene unfolded. Sadly, what didn’t work was the brewing love story between Duplass’ Bobby and McCarthy’s Tammy. Sure, both of them did have a nice comfortable rapport, but it seemed out of place in a wild and crazy road trip comedy. Hopefully, Duplass and McCarthy get the chance to work together again in a true romantic comedy with just the right hint of crazy. Overall, the movie did have its fair share of hits and just as many misses.
As for breakout performances, McCarthy, Sarandon, and Bates led the pack as three wildly different women who enjoyed causing mischief. McCarthy embodied Tammy to be a sweetly naive woman who always managed to make mistakes as she tried to improve her circumstances. She has proven to be good at physical comedy and deftly handling even the most uncomfortable of storylines. Her best scene came towards the end of the movie when she told Sarandon’s Pearl that she loved her, which demonstrated that Pearl and Tammy’s on-screen relationship was the best one of the entire film. It was like a more screwball comedic version of “Thelma and Louise” with an extra dose of toilet humor. McCarthy’s second best scene was when she was fired from her job and how she went off on her former boss, which ironically was her real-life husband. She made what could’ve been an awkward scene rather funny and something many who get fired from their job would like to do to their boss. Sarandon designed to be an against type grandmother who hated knitting and loved to party like most people a lot younger than her. She managed to play both the screwball scenes and the ones where she was the calm one to her advantage. It also helped that she seemed to be enjoying playing the role of a grandmother with the help of make-up and prosthetic feet that looked swollen to boot. The real interesting surprise was Bates’ Lenore, even though she wasn’t in the film for very long, but her scenes were indeed memorable. She played a character that loved to blow things up, such as torching a getaway car and blowing up a broken jet ski at her Fourth of July party. Bates also managed to give Lenore a few moments of seriousness as she told Tammy what she needed to hear to lead her on a better path for her future. She did have a rapport with McCarthy that could translate into another comedy, if the material was right. Only time will tell if that’s the case.
Verdict: McCarthy and Sarandon delivered decent performances, but the movie’s wildly erratic tone made it hard to fathom some of the jokes that worked as much as the ones that didn’t.
DVD Score: 2 out of 5 stars
Movie Rating: R
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)