Tammy: Mildly Amiable McCarthy Comedy

tammy_9The good news about Tammy, a mildly enjoyable but ultimately disappointing comedy, is that it shows how Hollywood has changed over the past decade. The industry now let actors, who are not particularly attractive and that usually played supporting roles, get leading parts and dominate their pictures.

This is clearly the case of Melissa McCarthy, a funny comedienne and gifted actress, whose rise to stardom over the past three years proves my point. It also helps that, ironically, McCarthy has become sort of a fashion icon. She has generated a lot of news when she revealed that my hot fashion gurus refused to design her dress for the Oscar show, when she attended as Oscar nominee for Bridesmaids.

Well-meaning in intent, “Tammy” is a personal, even family affair. McCarthy co-wrote the screenplay with her husband, Ben Falcone, who makes a directorial debut, not too promising, I might add. You could say that Tammy is both an authorial and auteurist enterprise, as McCarthy’s signature is all over the road movie (She was also involved in casting and other departments behind the scenes).

Watching this sporadically amusing, but innocuously conventional comedy, I kept thinking of another female buddy road comedy, the superior 1991 Thelma and Louise, which co-starred Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon. In Tammy, Sarandon plays McCarthy’s white-haired grandmother, even though age-wise, she qualifies as her mother. Speaking of mothers, Allison Janney is also too young to play McCarthy’s mom.

Though she has only made a handful of films, McCarthy has already developed an established (and limited?) screen image, motivated by both objective and subjective factors. Her physical attributes (size matters?) naturally dictate the range of roles she can play convincingly, but added to that dimension is the notion of a loser or an underdog who pulls all of the resources around her and emerges more confident and successful, if not all the way triumphant.

Essentially a high concept formulaic comedy, Tammy revolves around two women, a disgruntled Midewestern housewife (who lost her job) and her eccentric grandmother(S arandon), who’s boozy, floozy, spontaneous, and and hot-tempered.

With the exception of Bridesmaids, McCarthy has not made a decent picture, but she seems to have developed a loyal audience of indiscriminating viewers, judging by the commercial appeal of the weak Identity Thief, in which she was paired with Jason Bates, and the mediocre but enjoyable The Heat,” in which she teamed and benefited from the box-office clout of her reliable co-star, Sandra Bullock. Both pictures have easily crossed the 100 million mark, and it remains to be seen how this Warner release would o, when it open theatrically on July 2.