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Melissa McCarthy continues to make fungible comedies that are neither very good nor particularly offensive. She again plays a rebel with a bleeding heart in Tammy, a comedy not unlike McCarthy's Identity Thief and The Heat. The titular heroine runs her junker straight into a deer and gets sacked at work before walking in on her husband and another woman. Tammy takes off with her boozy, irresponsible grandma - played by a warmly amusing Susan Sarandon - on a road trip of blissful ignorance that cannot fix Tammy's lack of ambition. McCarthy produces here with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, so Tammy earns a couple of laughs, but it generally feels quite pointless. An odd retreat into the home of Kathy Bates and Sandra Oh brings out some nasty drunk truth from grandma, and Tammy wraps up with a big ol' sappy coda that it neither earns nor deserves.
The film does little to set up Tammy's character arc other than tell us she is well down the path of minimum wage jobs and poor life choices. Apparently, the romantic dinner between Tammy's husband (Nat Faxon) and a female neighbor (Toni Collette) is not unexpected, since Tammy has been cruising on annoying autopilot for years. Tammy's mom (Allison Janney) basically rolls her eyes at her daughter's latest "disaster," sending Tammy into a rage. Lacking the funds and transportation to make an escape, Tammy grabs grandma Pearl (Sarandon) and her Cadillac, and the pair sets off into the sunset. Along the road they meet an amorous companion for grandma (Gary Cole) and a nice guy (Mark Duplass) for Tammy. The two women rehash past demons and attack one another's flaws, and at times Tammy feels more like an unpleasant soap opera than a comedy.
I do like Sarandon here, and her drunken grandma is a fairly entertaining character. Pearl recalls dating "the wrong Allman brother," and Tammy is still resentful that Pearl left for the bottle during Tammy's childhood. The joke about old-people sex is not very funny, and it gets driven into the ground. A lot of "WTF" stuff happens, too. Tammy robs her old fast-food joint with a finger gun, and she rides and subsequently crashes a jet ski for no reason whatsoever. Director Ben Falcone can't quite find a tone. One minute Tammy is an over-the-top slapstick comedy, the next Pearl is calling Tammy a "cheeseburger" and a "loser." And there is a weird undercurrent about past abuse and neglect on Tammy, who does not even know Mark Twain is an author.
At roughly 100 minutes, Tammy is not exactly boring, but it is little more than an inoffensive diversion. The kind of thing you might watch for a few minutes when flipping channels. On the plus side, the production was shot in and around Wilmington, North Carolina, which I always like to see. Sarandon is good, though hardly as frail as her character, and Bates is enjoyable as Pearl's friend and tough-love counselor to Tammy. I hope McCarthy finds some better scripts with more diverse characters. Tammy is fluffy junk, with some mean-spirited melodrama tacked on for bad measure.
The 1.85:1/1080p/AVC-encoded image is bright and crisp, with strong depth and texture. Close-ups are tight and nicely detailed, and wide shots run long and are without noise. Colors are nicely saturated, contrast is good and black levels are stout.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is fairly active, and makes good use of the surrounds. Action and ambient effects rumble the sub and rear speakers, and dialogue is clean whether delivered from the center or side channels. The soundtrack is weighty, and both range and clarity are good. French, Spanish and Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital mixes are included, as are English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
This two-disc "combo pack" includes the Blu-ray, a DVD copy and an UltraViolet HD digital copy. The discs are packed into an eco-case, which is wrapped in a slipcover. The Blu-ray includes both the Extended Cut (1:40:35) and the Theatrical Version (1:36:35) of Tammy, though I cannot tell you the differences between the two. Extras include Tammy's Road Trip Checklist (4:28/HD), which includes interviews with McCarthy and Falcone; a Gag Reel (3:22/HD); Deleted Scenes (4:49 total/HD); and some "Fun Extras" (5:53 total/HD), which are just variations on the "Line-O-Rama" featurettes that are all the rage these days.
Melissa McCarthy is a funny lady, but she needs to pick better projects. Tammy is a below-average comedy that even Susan Sarandon cannot save, and the laughs are few and far between. The tone is uneven, and McCarthy keeps playing the same character in every movie. Skip It.
William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.