Tammy: Road Chick Flick

tammy_posterTwo Oscar-caliber actresses, Melissa McCarthy (nominee for Bridesmaids) and Susan Sarandon (winner for Dead Man Walking) star in the road comedy “Tammy,” marking the directorial debut of Ben Falcone (McCarthy’s real-life husband).

After losing her job, husband and car in one day, Tammy Banks (Melissa McCarthy) wants out of her small town existence. With no money or transportation, her only way out is with her hard-partying grandmother, Pearl (Susan Sarandon).  Their misadventures and brushes with the law lead them on a funny and heartfelt road trip to remember.

The screenplay is by Melissa McCarthy & Ben Falcone.  Will Ferrell and Adam McKay produced the film with McCarthy.  Rob Cowan, Falcone, Chris Henchy, Kevin Messick, Toby Emmerich, Richard Brener and Michael Disco served as executive producers.

 

tammy_15Road trips are a tradition of comedy films, but in the hands of married duo Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy, their new movie, “Tammy,” is anything but a traditional road trip.

Falcone and McCarthy have been writing comedy material together since their early days as Groundlings, where they met.  “Tammy” marks the couple’s first collaboration on the big screen as writers.  It is also Falcone’s feature directorial debut, and McCarthy’s first foray into producing.

“I guess you could say it was literally a dream come true,” says Falcone, who reveals that the idea sprang from a dream he described to McCarthy about going on a crazy road trip with her grandmother.  “I always love writing with Melissa, but to get to direct her was incredible because she’s so talented and, of course, funny.”

tammy_12_sarandonMcCarthy shares, “Ben and I had always talked about writing a movie about real people who mess up and have to decide if they are going to keep making mistakes or change things.  Since Ben has been directing theatre and comedy videos for years, we felt it was a natural progression for him to direct “Tammy.”

Falcone and McCarthy mined their own Midwest backgrounds to create a string of colorful characters and situations that revolve around a working-class woman who gets trapped on an interminable road trip with her rather atypical grandmother.

Producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay were already fans of Falcone and McCarthy and were eager to work with the pair.

McKay states, “Melissa is one of the funniest people on the planet and Ben is a super-talented, hilarious guy.  As a producer, this meant two things: we would have a very funny and unique movie, and I would not have to work as hard because they are so good.”

Ferrell adds, “Melissa has made me laugh hard for a long time, so when I heard it was her and Susan Sarandon in a car having wild adventures, I wanted in.”

tammy_10_mccarthySarandon, who stars opposite McCarthy as Tammy’s irrepressible grandma, Pearl, was drawn to the raucous road trip that Tammy and her grandmother take, which, surprisingly, becomes an emotional journey.  “The script had such energy and was flamboyant in its freedom,” she conveys. “I liked that all the absurd things they go through give Pearl and Tammy the opportunity to look at where they are in their lives and take it up a notch.”

McCarthy and Sarandon are just two pieces of what turned into an all-star ensemble, including Allison Janney, Gary Cole, Mark Duplass, Sandra Oh, Dan Aykroyd and Kathy Bates.  Falcone also brought fellow Groundlings Nat Faxon, Steve Little and Sarah Baker to the mix.  With such a deep talent pool, he encouraged improvisation from his entire cast to extract even more humor from Tammy and Pearl’s misadventure.

As the two women take to the highway, everything that can go wrong does, and then some, forcing them to face each other’s flaws as well as their own…and put out a few fires along the way.

tammy_9McCarthy says, “If you’re having a terrible day and something ridiculous makes you laugh, that’s the best.  We wanted to capture that feeling.”

Falcone adds, “Tammy is not only having a terrible day, she’s having one huge, epic bad day and a whole lot of ridiculousness ensues.  We had a lot of fun with that.”

Have you seen a comedy in which there is a scene of mouth-to-mouth with a deer.

That’s exactly how Tammy’s epic bad day starts out after colliding with the unfortunate creature on a deserted highway on her way to work.  The deer isn’t the only impact on her day.  Her creepy boss at Topper Jack’s burger joint also blindsides Tammy by firing her.

Falcone notes, “We’re immediately clued into the fact that Tammy usually takes the easy road, does the minimum required to get by.  And that ripples throughout the rest of her world.”

McCarthy describes Tammy as “underdeveloped, stunted, and immature.  She’s a train wreck.  But with a good heart.”

Echoing that sentiment, Falcone says, “Tammy does have a good heart and so does Melissa. I think that quality is what makes Melissa so appealing to audiences.  It really shines through her character.”

“My inspiration for Tammy came from an amalgamation of regular people I’ve known or observed just living their lives.  Only jacked-up a little,” McCarthy admits.  “Tammy hates her life, or lack thereof, but instead of changing it, blames everyone else.  She just can’t get out of her own way.”

If Tammy thought her crappy day couldn’t get any worse, she’s sadly mistaken.  When she finally drags through the door of her house, she finds her husband, Greg, played by Nat Faxon, having a romantic interlude with her neighbor, played by Toni Collette.

Falcone observes, “This is already the worst day of her life.   We wanted to slam Tammy with enough to make her have to physically leave.  There’s nowhere left for her to hide from her problems.”

So Tammy tries to get out of town, turning to her mom for comfort—and a loaner car.