By now, everyone knows who Melissa McCarthy is. She stole the show in her breakthrough performance in “Bridesmaids.” The role made her the first and probably only actress to be nominated for an Oscar for a part that defines “gross out.” Last year she had the chance to co-star along big players like Sandra Bullock in “The Heat” and Jason Bateman in “Identity Theft.” It’s only natural that she’d get her own film to star in. Enter “Tammy.”
Tammy is a small town screw up; a Midwestern townie. She’s also not the sharpest tool in the shed. We are introduced to her when she hits a deer with her beat up car and attempts to give it mouth to mouth resuscitation. She gets fired from her job for arriving late and when she returns home she finds her husband cheating. She runs next door to her mother’s (played by Allison Janney) house and asks to borrow her grandma Pearl’s car to get out of town for a little bit.
Pearl (Susan Sarandon) is a loud-mouthed alcoholic who insists on joining Tammy on her road trip, to where else but Niagara Falls. They go the opposite direction, Grandma gets in trouble with the law, and Tammy has to rob a drive thru to get money for bail. Tammy also begins to reflect on her life leading up to robbing apple pies from teenage cashiers.
There is a lot of set-up for great jokes, but the script, written by McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone (who also directs), has a hard time following through. I imagine the script to be something along the lines of “Deer Mouth-to-Mouth Scene,” “Drunk Grandma in Car Scene” and “Fast Food Hold-up Scene.” The movie depends entirely on the ability of McCarthy to improvise, but even the best comedians can’t improvise a movie with a blank storyline.
Somehow, miraculously, the film still made me smile. McCarthy’s reliance on playing dumb and plump is becoming a bit cliché, but for now it’s still a funny shtick. I just wish the movie was a little funnier, a little more developed, and a little more daring for McCarthy.