One of the most disappointing movies of the summer, "Tammy" squanders a marvelous cast with a disjointed script and flat, unfunny situations.
Emmy winner and Oscar nominee Melissa McCarthy has proven herself to be a fearless comedienne, but as the star and co-writer, along with husband Ben Falcone, she misfires with a title character who is hard to like.
Tammy is a slovenly sad-sack, a fast-food worker with a tart unfiltered mouth and a messy family life.
She catches her husband (Nat Faxon) cheating on her with their neighbor (Toni Colette, utterly wasted in a cookie-cutter role). It's on the same day she loses her job after her beat-up car was totaled by a deer.
She and her grandmother Pearl (Susan Sarandon in bad makeup and wig) hit the road with the goal of seeing Niagara Falls. Pearl likes to drink and was quite a loose woman back in the day. None of this is very funny.
Tammy makes incredibly poor decisions, the worst of which is robbing a fast-food restaurant for bail money for pill-popping Grandma.
They ultimately reach their bucket-list destination, but by then, this road trip has derailed into an interminable and painfully dreadful train wreck.
Do you believe Susan Sarandon as Allison Janey's mom, let along McCarthy's grandma? From the get-go, there is a credibility issue with the ages.
Supporting roles are filled by performers you're usually happy to see in a film: Kathy Bates and Sandra Oh show up as a lesbian couple, Gary Cole is a two-timing farmer and his uptight son is Mark Duplass. Dan Ackroyd plays McCarthy's dad. But they are criminally misused.
McCarthy's schtick of the slob who enjoys insulting everyone around her and getting through life with crass put-downs and pity parties wears incredibly thin here. And it doesn't improve when she finally combs her hair.
There are a couple laughs in the beginning, and a few here and there, but really, the humor never rises to the level you expect. A deer and a raccoon get more laughs than the humans.
Seeing Southern Illinois is nice and an unexpected treat (Falcone is an alum of SIU Carbondale).
The soundtrack has some choice classic rock cuts, and the sing-alongs are pleasant diversions.
What Doesn't Work
There isn't much there, truly a waste of time and good people.
First-time director Ben Falcone ("Enough Said") has trouble with pacing. He obviously thinks his wife is hilarious, and she is with better material, and he allows scenes to go far too long. The bull-in-a-china-shop sight gags are too repetitive.
The whole premise that while Tammy is a loser, she does have a good heart takes forever to be revealed, and even then, it's questionable, given the cavalier and callous way she treats family members.
The film's trailer failed to engage, and we should have heeded the clues.
And what's wrong with Duane Allman?
Stars: 1 1/2 out of 4
Director: Ben Falcone
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Allison Janney, Gary Cole, Mark Duplass, Nat Faxon, Toni Colette, Dan Ackroyd
Rated: R for language including sexual references