During the showing of the new movie “Tammy” that I attended, my companion told me the film was “tedious.” On reflection, I think a better word to describe this new screen comedy is “forgettable.”
Here we are in the season of blockbusters. Every movie coming out has to have a hook that can be advertised. Its giant monsters are the biggest or its roster of dead or dying characters is the longest. Movies that can’t make advertising claims of this sort are usually not released on the Fourth of July, a sort of industry ceremonial occasion.
But the geniuses in Hollywood decided little “Tammy” was just the sort of thing movie audiences were going to be hungry for at the mid-point of the summer big-screen season. So out it came. And it landed with a thud.
A quiet thud, though. “Tammy” is the product of co-writer and star Melissa McCartney, known to us from “The Heat,” “Identity Theft,” and “Bridesmaids.” The movie is rudely sexual and coarse talking, just like a lot of film comedies these days, but it is also softer than recent releases like “The Other Woman,” “A Million Ways to Die in the West,” and “22 Jump Street.”
I wouldn’t have said I’d miss the edge that these films have. But compared to “Tammy,” they are all monuments in the progress of film comedy. In the new film things happen gently and usually for no particular reason. Granny (Susan Sarandon) is released from jail unexpectedly, and through no action of the title character (McCartney).
A young fellow finds something—something hidden from movie watchers—to like in Tammy and he shows up over and over again, generally unbidden. Heck, Tammy doesn’t do anything positive to resolve any of her problems even once during the movie. But the story pretends she has at least decided it is time for her to begin doing better in her life. Good intentions, I’ve heard, pave the road to hell.
Tammy is fired from her fast food job when she comes in late to work after she hits a deer with her Toyota. She wasn’t paying attention to the road. But she wishes she hadn’t hit the deer. There. Doesn’t that make it all better?
When she returns home she finds her husband having tea or something with a neighbor played by Toni Collette. Tammy concludes that this is an affront to her. It may be, but movie-goers may wonder. Returning to her parents’ house, T picks up Granny and they run away toward Niagara Falls, a very odd destination for the two of them, wouldn’t you say?
After wrecking a rental jet ski, T takes G to a barbecue place where the older woman picks up Gary Cole for an evening of physical love. Cole’s character’s son is Bobby (Mark Duplass), the aforementioned love interest for T.
G is caught by the police with some pain killers, and she and T are jailed. But G bails T out. T then makes a mask of a drive-in restaurant’s bag and, brandishing a fake gun, robs the fast food joint in the gentlest possible way. “I do like apple [pie]” she says and she notes that she could have been friends with the restaurant’s employees, even sharing hot tub time with them.
But, as I’ve said, G gets out of jail without T’s help. Then she calls a cousin (Kathy Bates) who is the chief of a tribe of middle-class lesbians. Cuz destroys the car T used in the robbery. And then Bobby shows up again at the lesbian Fourth of July party.
The story’s crisis is just mis-written. It involves alcoholic grandmother flashing the crowd and giving a speech during which she calls her granddaughter a fat loser. And then Bates comes along to begin the long wind-down of sentimental passages. Ugh. From then on the film is essentially unwatchable.
I think I watched it with attention up to there. But I really can’t remember. And considering that I’ve just gotten out of the theater, maybe that suggests that this “Tammy” (sans even references to Debbie Reynolds and Sandra Dee) is not in any way memorable.