Critical Mass: How far are we willing to ride with Melissa McCarthy in 'Tammy'?

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Image Credit: Michael Tackett

After years of playing the best friend or the quirky neighbor, Melissa McCarthy has emerged as a bankable leading lady. Since playing the puppy-loving, Fight Club-inspired sister of the groom in Bridemaids, McCarthy has delivered the goods in two box-office hits, Identity Thief and The Heat, that each grossed over $130 million. She’s not playing The Girlfriend in these movies; she’s the main attraction—a rare achievement for a comic actress.

“McCarthy is such a force of nature—she barrels onscreen in a human hurricane of dimples and Crocs and pure, unchecked id—that she feels more genuine than almost any other woman who’s been allowed (oh, show business) to carry her own major Hollywood film, besides possibly her Bridesmaids costar Kristen Wiig,” writes EW‘s critic Leah Greenblatt.

McCarthy’s box-office bona fides have now gifted us Tammy, a comedy that she and her husband, Ben Falcone, co-wrote and co-produced, and that Falcone directed. McCarthy stars as a woman whose already-sad life falls completely apart when she loses her job and her husband in the course of a single day. She retreats to her mother’s house, and hitches her wagon to her eccentric grandmother (Susan Sarandon), who happens to have a car and money to spend. The odd couple heads to Niagara Falls, bumping in to horny men, lesbians, and all sorts of trouble on the way.

It’s bound to be a trip, especially with Thelma & Louise‘s Sarandon in tow—though who are they kidding making her McCarthy’s grandmother?

Read more from EW’s review, as well as a round-up of other notable critics, below.

Leah Greenblatt (Entertainment Weekly)
In other hands—say, John Cassavetes’ or Charlie Kaufman’s—this could be the beginning of a small, thoughtful drama about losing and finding yourself in failure. But because Tammy is cowritten and played by Melissa McCarthy, it’s a broad, helter-skelter farce whose best bits hinge almost entirely on the considerable charms of its star.

Betsy Sharkey (Los Angeles Times)
“McCarthy is clearly talented, and there are certainly hints in virtually every role that she’s got the pathos and pain to match the comedy. But comedy is her calling card. Her aggressive, in-your-face, physically fearless style was a refreshing surprise at first. … The problem is she just keeps playing the same card.”

Ty Burr (Boston Globe)
“Falcone has a lot to learn about shaping a scene for maximum effect, and I’m not sure that what he and McCarthy have written could actually be called a screenplay. Mostly it involves setting up situations for McCarthy to barrel through.”

Richard Corliss (TIME) ▼
“(The phrase “vanity project” is applicable in every way.) In film schools of the future, professors will teach Tammy as an object lesson in Making Everything Go Wrong.”

Manohla Dargis (New York Times)
“[T]he filmmakers seem to be priming the story for an intergenerational riff on Thelma & Louise. Ms. Sarandon played the trigger-happy Louise in that righteous classic, but here she’s more or less playing Abbott to Ms. McCarthy’s Costello, complete with gray curls, leisure wear and artfully swollen ankles.”

David Edelstein (New York)
[Sarandon's] so serenely assured a comedian that she steals every scene. When Gary Cole, as a sex-crazed oldster, pounced on Pearl, I wished the movie had become their madcap odyssey rather than Tammy’s.

Justin Chang (Variety)
“The hard-working efforts of both actresses aside, the tetchy grandmother-granddaughter dynamic never fully sparks to emotional life; scene for scene, there’s a weird lack of conviction or concentration at play here. Elsewhere, the (mis)casting decisions are so surreal as to seem almost deliberate at times…”

Todd McCarthy (Hollywood Reporter) ▼
“So the film progresses from merely unfunny to unconvincing to dull. It’s a waste of a good cast as well as a serious trip wire for McCarthy, who may know what’s best for her talents but, on the evidence, needs a deft-handed outsider to make sure she’s maximizing them.”

Ann Hornaday (Washington Post)
Tammy is a bummer, not least because McCarthy’s fans know she’s better than this. We all miss Sookie, but we miss Melissa even more.”

Mick LaSalle (San Francisco Chronicle) ▼
“The character [Kathy Bates] plays is an exaggerated construct, a lesbian businesswoman who throws lavish parties … but she has one scene in which she transcends the wreckage. She talks about her life and her struggles, and if you were to just walk in those moments, you might actually think Tammy is a good movie.”

Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times)
“When you’re balancing ridiculous slapstick right out of a live-action cartoon with well-written, well-acted scenes that feel completely of this world, that’s a tough balancing act, and Tammy isn’t quite up to the task on a consistent basis. … But I walked out of Tammy thinking, ‘It could have been worse.'”

Tammy
Overall Metacritic rating (1-100): 40
Rotten Tomatoes: 24 percent

Rated: R
Length: 96 Minutes
Starring Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates, Mark Duplass
Directed by Ben Falcone
Distributor: Warner Bros.

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