Tammy (Melissa McCarthy) is having a terrible day; she hits a deer with her car, gets fired and finds her husband cheating on her, so she does what any maladjusted person would do, hits the road with her grandmother Pearl (Susan Sarandon) to see Niagra Falls. Along the way the two women realise they have more in common than they thought, and perhaps running away is not the answer.
Tammy, written by McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone – who also takes on directing duties – puts a twist on the road movie, and the fact that men are more often perceived to be immature and childish. McCarthy does what she does best here, and plays an impatient, impulsive and foulmouthed character with a heart of gold. Tammy is more developed as a character than some of the roles McCarthy has taken on, but it is hard to shake the feeling that we have seen this all before.
Susan Sarandon throws on a grey wig and caution to the wind, as she takes on the role of McCarthy’s grandmother Pearl. Sarandon’s casting is one of the odder elements of the film; there are only 23 years between the actress and the woman playing her daughter, and this is painfully obvious at times. Hurrah for Sarandon not trying to hide the fact that she is getting older, but accelerating the process seems a little strange. Age aside, Sarandon and McCarthy have some lovely moments on screen together, as they rage, learn and grow from one another.
The rest of the cast is made up of Nat Faxon, Toni Collette and Allison Janney, underused in small and inconsequential roles, Gary Cole and Mark Duplass as father and son, and Kathy Bates and Sandra Oh as a wealthy lesbian power couple. Bates has some great moments and fantastic energy, and the chemistry between Duplass and McCarthy is sweet and warm.
Script-wise, it is obvious that the film was written as a vehicle for McCarthy, and shows the actress off at her best. The trouble is that the jokes are often more tragic than funny, so that laughing at such a troubled and destructive character feels wrong. As well as this, comparisons are immediately drawn to Thelma & Louise due to the casting of Sarandon, and more often than not, the film comes up wanting. However, there are moments of tenderness and emotion through the film that do work, but it all feels familiar and well worn.
Ben Falcone directs capably; each of the actors give believable performances, but are let down by a script that is trying too hard to be Dumb and Dumber meets Thelma & Louise.
Tammy is a surprisingly touching film filled with great performances. Duplass, Sarandon and McCarthy shine through, but are let down by a familiar, unfunny and overly absurd script.