TAMMY. Starring Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates, Alison Janney, Dan Aykroyd, Mark Duplass, Gary Cole, Nat Faxon, Toni Collette, Sandra Oh, Ben Falcone. Directed by Ben Falcone. 96 minutes, Rated M (Coarse language).

This is very much a take-it or leave-it kind of comedy. It all depends whether you like Melissa McCarthy or not. She has been around for quite a while but came into wide prominence with her comic turn in Bridesmaids. Since then she has been successful in such films as Identity Thief or as Sandra Bullock’s contrasting police partner in Heat.

Tammy was co-written with her husband, Ben Falcone, who also directed the film (and appeared in a cameo role as the manager of a fast-food outlet who sacks Tammy and is pelted with food by her). Melissa McCarthy often plays larger-than-life roles and this one is no exception. But the trouble is, Tammy is not a very likeable person at all (either by many of the characters or by the audience). She is moody, childish and her behaviour, generally self-absorbed, as well as being something of a slob. It is very surprising to find that she is married to Greg (Nat Faxon) who, perhaps understandably but not justifiably, is in a relationship with, of all people, Toni Collette.

But this is a road movie because Tammy is so exasperated with every one, everything and her life, that she decides to go on the road, but having to borrow a car because the opening of the film shows her crashing into a deeer because of a distraction and smashing the car. And, because she was late, and so many times, she has been sacked.

Her parents are played by Dan Aykroyd and Alison Janney. Her grandmother is played by Susan Sarandon. Her grandmother’s friends, a lesbian couple, are played by Kathy Bates and Sandra Oh. And then there is Gary Cole who is attracted to grandma and Mark Duplass, a nice fairly simple soul, who is genuinely attracted to Tammy. If nothing else, the film boasts a very, very strong cast with Susan Sarandon standing out as the extroverted, alcoholic, few-holds-barred grandmother.

Of course, there are all kinds of incidents along the road, especially because of grandmother Pearl, which includes a jail sentence and robbing a diner to get bail to get her out.

The culmination is at a fourth of July party held by the couple where grandmother behaves very badly, Tammy feels hurt, and the host, Kathy Bates, gives her a few solid words of advice.

Happy ending is implied – and reconciliation with another, father, grandmother, and the nice young man. But, whether it will work out that way…?

Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.


Out October 16, 2014.

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