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TAMMY Road To Nowhere

Tammy

Directed by Ben Falcone
Starring Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates

Tammy (Melissa McCarthy) is having the worst day of her life. Her car is totalled by a deer, she has lost her job flipping burgers, her husband is having an affair with the neighbour (and, worse still, displaying previously hidden talents in cooking for her), and her relationship with her mother hasn’t changed since puberty. Her only escape from her small town life lies in taking her alcoholic grandmother up on her offer to go on a trip to Niagara Falls. So, with six grand in cash, a purse full of booze, and a bag of non-prescription pain killers, the unlikely couple hit the road in the hope that things can only get better.
As bad as her day is, at least she didn’t have to watch this movie.

There is little of worth about Tammy. What should be a lovable outsider character instead comes across as crass, abrasive, unaware and selfish. Any attempt at a journey of self discovery flounders, lacking any realisation, change or resolution. The growth Tammy does experience seems unearned, and purely a function of the script, unmotivated by outside events or self revelation. She merely undergoes a change in attitude (and a 50 point bump in IQ) seemingly because it is that time in the movie. As such its traditional road movie structure instead becomes merely a random sequence of events and the end feels pointless (although yearned for by everyone in the audience, purely so they may escape, grab a drink and put this unpleasantness far behind them).

Blame for this debacle must rest squarely on the shoulders of Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone. As the husband and wife team wrote and produced Tammy, and Falcone makes his directorial debut with this picture, what is up on the screen must be pretty much what they intended to show. The script lacks any true direction or depth, filled with leaden jokes and uninspiring realisations. When it actually manages to land a good line (and there are one or two – few and far between) it merely serves as an illustration of what Tammy should have been, and how far it is from that mark. Tonally it is equally inconsistent, never deciding if it wants to be a comedy, a drama, or even a dramedy and failing to be any.

Most baffling of all is the stellar cast that this movie has attracted. One must assume that somewhere Satan is keeping a ledger with the names Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates, Gary Cole, Dan Aykroyd, and Toni Collette with “debt paid in full” written next to their names. In fact it is easy to assume that the story of how Tammy got made would be far more interesting than anything this film brings to the screen. To add to the bafflement is that, despite being critically panned, Tammy has managed to pull in just shy of $100 million at the US box office, proof that Melissa McCarthy must be doing something right by her fans… even if this movie really isn’t it.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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