In Tammy, what you see is what you get – even if you have seen it all before.
In Tammy, what you see is what you get — even if you have seen it all before. A road-trip odd-couple coming-of-age comedy, Melissa McCarthy's latest effort drives down familiar routes in search of revelations and raucousness but does little more than warmly ride through the usual cliches of its genre.
McCarthy's titular character is a picture of immaturity, escaping her blue collar, Middle America problems after a day from hell that leaves her car wrecked, her employment terminated, and her husband (Nat Faxon) with another woman (Toni Collette). Despite protests from her mother (Allison Janney), she takes to the highway with her fun-loving, Cadillac-owning grandmother, Pearl (Susan Sarandon). Mismatched travelling companions with individual scores to settle, they set out on a jovial jaunt, but find more than frivolity on their journey.
Tackling troubles en route to a far-flung destination has been the premise of many manchild-focused movies, as recent features Due Date and The Guilt Trip have shown. While Tammy appropriates typically male traits in a gender role reversal, even its central swap is absent originality. Indeed, McCarthy's own Identity Thief followed the same formula barely a year ago.
Alas, in Tammy, McCarthy's seeming ambition to ape Zach Galifianakis' similar output continues. Even when writing her own roles — here with director Ben Falcone — she copies stereotypes rather than carves out her own niche. Her aims in broadening the representation of women on screen are admirable; her methods are less so. Despite her slapstick skill, she rarely serves up anything other than the same imitative effort.
Tammy's derivation doesn't stop there, nor does its squandering of its cast. With Sarandon involved, the girl's own gambit also borrows from Thelma and Louise as it ambles through a checklist of cartoonish tropes. Tammy and Pearl cycle through liaisons with men (Gary Cole and Mark Duplass) they meet along the way, fall afoul of the law, and reunite with long-lost relatives (Kathy Bates and Sandra Oh). Of the supports, Bates makes the best of scarce opportunities in an offering that's as much McCarthy's passion project as it is her star vehicle.
And yet, though the comedy and characters clearly spring from all that has come before, the feature sparkles with sincerity. Missives of the self — esteem, worth and discovery — are as common as most of the film's content; however, Tammy never feels anything other than earnest. First-time filmmaker Falcone may assemble everything together in tonally bland and comically mistimed packaging, his visuals devoid of texture and his scenes lingering too long, but his affection for his lead and narrative shines through. In its generic compilation, Tammy may lack its desired humour, but it does boast customary helpings of heart and hopefulness.
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