Melissa McCarthy has become one of the most popular comediennes in Hollywood, but she is also one of the most polarizing too. Best known on the big screen for roles in “Identity Thief” and “Bridesmaids,” McCarthy has a completely different persona when it comes to television thanks to roles on “Gilmore Girls” and “Mike & Molly.” Based off of her big screen antics she has found a large following, but critics have harped on her appearance and her boisterous comedic style. For her newest film, “Tammy,” McCarthy seems to be interested in finding a happy medium between the two personas.
As the titular character, Tammy is having quite the day. A rough around the edges, fast food worker from a small town, she gets fired from her job the same day as finding out that her husband is cheating on her. Rather than face the problems, she decides to hit the road with her grandmother Pearl.
The first thing to notice about “Tammy,” as the credit rolls, is that McCarthy is helping to call the shots. The film is directed by her husband Ben Falcone (who also has a small role as her boss) and the pair co-wrote the script together. Now that she is the star, co-writer, and producer, she has plenty of input on the final product and seems to be ready to merge the worlds. She is, however, savvy enough to know that you also have to give the audience what they want to see. Therein is the fine line that the film tries to walk. Throughout the film, the titular character unevenly blossoms into someone new. Her metamorphosis is jerks back and forth throughout the film until the third act makeover, which gives away to the beautiful new Tammy.
“Tammy” hinges on McCarthy and how much the audience takes to her in the role, but it is a better showcase for her than just fat jokes and a dirty mouth. By the end of the film, some of the more physical comedic set-ups end up feeling gratuitous and cheap. Falcone and McCarthy have given the film enough backbone to forgive this occasional backslide because by this point you’ve already invested in Tammy herself. While it’s doubtful that the actress will ever complete leave her raunchy persona behind, hopefully this will be a gateway to seeing different sides to Melissa McCarthy on the big screen.