By all rights, the new comedy "Tammy" would be the ultimate expression of Melissa McCarthy's comedy. Written by the film and TV star with her husband Ben Falcone -- who also directs -- "Tammy" should have all the right moves to drive McCarthy fans wild with pleasure. Instead, it's likely to inspire the question "Is this all there is?"
The lazy road-movie formula that immediately kicks in might not have been an obstacle to fun had McCarthy and Falcone been in a quirkier mood. But "Tammy" proves unfortunately unfunny most of the time, and dispiritedly "been there, done that" as the bickering Tammy and Pearl pick up a father-son pair -- one horny, one sweet -- at a roadhouse (like everything else in the movie, Gary Cole and Mark Duplass seem uninspired). The ostensible end of the line is Niagara Falls, a liberation destination to baptize the heroes for their new life, lessons duly learned.
McCarthy delivers another all-in performance, but so much so as to be more sad than funny much of the time. This may be no object for her true, mad, deep fans, but the average viewer will expect the raucous comedy "Tammy" has only in short supply (the film's comic highlight being a passage involving passive-aggressive apparent armed robbery). The utterly reliable Sarandon hits no false notes, but the material lets her down, which can also be said for Kathy Bates as the fix-it-minded co-host (with Sandra Oh) of a lesbian Fourth of July party.
Though nothing much lands here in terms of comedy, "Tammy" attempts to compensate with themes of familial reconciliation (however arbitrary in the choice of grandma over mom or hubby) and redefinition of self. But you can almost feel the movie sheepishly shrugging sorry when the credits play it off with a couple of tag scenes and a McCarthy outtake. We still love you, Melissa. Better luck next time.
Rated R for language including sexual references. One hour, 36 minutes.
This story contains 455 words.
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