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'Tammy' review: Girl power, lessons learned, and brief laughs

Stars attend the premiere of "Tammy."  Melissa McCarthy
Stars attend the premiere of "Tammy." Melissa McCarthy
Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Tammy (film)


With a triumvirate of strong females playing three generations of women, Melissa McCarthy leads Susan Sarandon and Allison Janney in a journey of acceptance, of one’s responsibility and one’s worth. Offering more of a constant chuckle than many guffaws, the comedy of “Tammy” isn’t full of the self-deprecation audiences are used to with McCarthy’s more famous performances in which she is treated as repulsive or disgusting; instead, McCarthy’s Tammy grows more confident as the film progresses, a nice, positive change for her thanks to co-writing the film with her husband, Ben Falcone.

Tammy (Melissa McCarthy) faces one of the worst bad days ever when she totals her car, gets fired by fast food chain manager Keith (Ben Falcone), and comes home to find her husband (Nat Faxon) is romancing their neighbor (Toni Collette). Tammy storms off to her mother’s (Allison Janney) to borrow a car to leave town, but her grandmother, Pearl (Susan Sarandon), insists on accompanying Tammy on her road trip but leaves her diabetes medication behind. As the mixed-generation duo wander, Tammy loses her confidence and wants to head home but Pearl won’t permit her to quit. Together, they find romance with a father and son (Gary Cole, Mark Duplass), but Tammy once again feels used. Tempted to abandon her grandma, Tammy’s conscience wins out though gets her into trouble and requires the aid of Pearl’s cousin Lenore (Kathy Bates).

Though the road trip is reminiscent of parts of “Identity Thief,” Melissa McCarthy’s role is stronger and more positive despite an extreme level of ignorance. Instead of being off-putting, Tammy’s ignorance and rough-around-the-edges demeanor are bearable thanks to her good heart and low self-confidence. What is charming and lovely about the film is the acceptance of McCarthy as a regular person; there are no fat jokes, no harassments about appearance. Instead, she is awkward and doesn’t know her own worth. When she is “made over” by Lenore’s partner, Susanne (Sandra Oh), Tammy doesn’t transform into a remarkable swan version of herself but, instead, sparkles with a clean shirt and brushed hair.

“Tammy” includes a wide variety of talent, but the cast’s abilities don’t fully show. Though Susan Sarandon is finally back for another interesting road trip, Pearl has far too much going on for the story; between alcoholism, diabetes, and carefree flirtation, her mistakes go too far to make a point. Duplass’ Bobby is charming and sweet while the romance stays cute and casual, but he’s not in the film enough. Faxon, Collette, and Oh are practically ignored.

Not one of McCarthy’s typical comedies, “Tammy” isn’t laugh out loud hysterical but isn’t as disgusting and crude, either. Despite her character’s occasional abrasiveness, McCarthy is becoming a modern American star sweetheart.

Rating for “Tammy:” B-

For more information on this film or to view its trailer, click here.

“Tammy” is still playing across Columbus, including at Arena Grand, Movie Tavern, and AMC Lennox and Easton. For showtimes, click here.

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