Tammy, film review: Melissa McCarthy takes all the pratfalls in this erratic comedy

Ben Falcone  96 mins, starring: Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates, Dan Aykroyd, Allison Janney

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The Independent Culture

This misfiring and strangely cast road movie/comedy sees Susan Sarandon back in a car over 20 years after Thelma And Louise. She plays Pearl, a hard-drinking, promiscuous grandmother.

Melissa McCarthy (of Bridesmaids fame) is her granddaughter Tammy, who has just lost her job at a fast food restaurant and discovered that her husband is cheating on her. Together, they hit the road with a vague plan of visiting Niagara Falls.

Director Ben Falcone (McCarthy’s husband) contrives some good natured slapstick along the way (McCarthy crashing a jet ski or crushing the car’s wing mirrors in the woods.) There’s lots of boozing and bad behaviour, especially from Pearl.

The film, though, is as erratic as Tammy’s driving, veering dangerously from gross-out comedy to rank sentimentality with no real sense of where it is headed.

Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon as Tammy and Pearl

It’s hard, too, to work out the filmmakers’ attitude toward their own central character. Tammy is often treated very cruelly. She is the butt of many of the jokes and the one who seems to take all the pratfalls.

Her behaviour is frequently obnoxious. When she feels she has been mistreated, she throws childish tantrums. At the same time, she is supposed to be a heroine of sorts. Life has treated her badly and she is finally fighting back. We’re never sure whether to laugh with her or at her, to pity her or to root for her.