Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Cinema File #369: "Tammy" Review

I want to love Melissa McCarthy, I really do, but she’s not making it easy for me. With her latest film, she has officially burned through her remaining lifetime allotment of caveats lamenting her obvious talent in the wake of yet another terrible movie she’s chosen to be in. And at this point we have to assume that it’s her choice, right? It can’t just be typecasting and studio pressure, can it? McCarthy would seem to be at a point in her career where she could do pretty much whatever she wants, and of all the things she could have done, she’s regrettably decided to unleash Tammy upon the world. I just give up...I can't do this anymore.

This is usually the point where I would give a brief synopsis of the film, but to do so here would only be to disingenuously suggest that this movie had a plot. Now, I've called movies plot-less before, but evidently I have been ill-prepared for just how inconsequential a story could be and still qualify as a movie. You might think based on the advertising that Tammy is a simple road movie, a traditionally flimsy pretext that practically writes itself, and technically you'd be right, but even within that framework, Tammy doesn't even do the bare minimum of establishing a reason to care about any of it. Tommy Boy, for example, might just be a shameless riff on Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, but at least they took the time to throw in a central conflict. Hell, even Bad Grandpa had more reason to exist than this movie. Tammy begins with the title character about to give mouth to mouth to a dying deer on the highway, and I almost thought this was going to pan out into a Freddie Got Fingered style gross out fest, but even that was giving it too much credit.

In this way, Tammy is the quintessential Melissa McCarthy movie, stripped down to its very essence of that same character you've seen a dozen times now improvising her way through one arbitrary scenario after another. Tammy herself is simply a redressing of the obnoxious in your face lady from Bridesmaids, Identity Thief, The Heat, and so on, only now with a slightly dirtier shirt, driving cross country with her grandma with no need for a script and only the most routine and disposable character development possible. By the time the movie finally gets around to shooting for some substance in the third act, its almost insulting to watch what had been an endless stream of unfunny schtick turn into a weird dramatic piece about alcoholism and family dysfunction, after an hour or so of the thing deliberately keeping us from giving a shit about any of the people involved.

And most of those people are way too good for this movie by the way. Kathy Bates, Susan Sarandon, Mark Duplass, Gary Cole, Allison Janney, Nat Faxon, Toni Collette, Dan Aykroyd. This is a list of names that when brought together into one movie should have been something magical. To say that they are under-utilized doesn't even cover it. These are actors that can turn the dumbest material into gold, or at least one would have thought so before the challenge of doing so here proved too much for even their collectively awesome talent. I'd ask what they possibly could have seen in the script to this piece of shit, but there is no way in hell there ever was one, or rather if there was, it was one page that just read “Melissa McCarthy does that thing she always does for another 90 minutes. The End.” Excited yet?

Hollywood is like that kid that you see hopefully begat to other parents who are not yourself, precocious but not necessarily intelligent, who keys into something adults find momentarily amusing about them and proceeds to repeat it ad nauseum until you want to kill yourself. Worse than any Transformers movie or millionth remake/reboot, Tammy is the twisted bastard Omen child of that childish system, and like all children birthed by children, the result is riddled with deformities. I know this analogy has gotten away from me, but fuck it, that's how much this movie sucks, that even that strange stream of consciousness is the only thing that can adequately describe its awfulness. If it holds any distinction, it is only as the first movie of 2014 to be so unbearably bad that it knocks Ride Along off the top of my list of worst movies of the year (once again, for the record, Dinesh D'Souza's America doesn't count as a movie). I guess congratulations are in order. Excuse me while I vomit.

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