'Tammy': What the Critics Are Saying

5:00 AM PST 07/02/2014 by Ilana Lifshitz, Ashley Lee

Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon pair up and pack their bags for the New Line road-trip comedy.

Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon head out on a road trip in Tammy, out Wednesday. Directed by McCarthy's husband and oft-collaborator Ben Falcone, the comedy also features Kathy Bates, Allison Janney, Dan Aykroyd, Mark Duplass, Nat Faxon, Toni Collette and Sandra Oh.

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Box-office observers predict that the New Line comedy will debut to $45 million to $50 million over the Fourth of July weekend, considering McCarthy and Sandra Bullock's The Heat took in $47.2 million during the same stretch last year after opening the weekend before.

Read what top critics are saying about Tammy:

The Hollywood Reporter's chief film critic Todd McCarthy says in his review, "Several motor vehicles get totaled or badly damaged in the potholed and perilous Tammy, which prompts analogous speculation as to whether this first feature outing as producer-writer-star for the normally hilarious Melissa McCarthy represents a major career wreck or just a quick moment in a ditch."

McCarthy has played the "same aggressive, foul-mouthed, working-class slob she’s mined for comic gold in previous outings," but this time around, "what's been funny for her no longer is. ... It's a waste of a good cast as well as a serious trip wire for McCarthy, who may know what's best for her talents, but, on the evidence, needs a deft-handed outsider to make sure she's maximizing them." And regarding her co-stars: "However hard Sarandon tries to trash herself down, neither she nor Janney is a remotely plausible genetic contributor to the waddling disaster zone that is Tammy."

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The New York Times' Manohla Dargis classifies Tammy as McCarthy's "least funny comedy." While "the rapidity of Tammy’s stomping, muttering journey to her mother’s is lightly amusing, and it’s the kind of quick, don’t-blink bit of business that — with her effortless appeal — makes you root for Ms. McCarthy and this movie from the start," co-writers McCarthy and Falcone sell themselves short and "resort to more blunt comedy bits, including scenes built around Tammy’s own penchant for junk food" which "aren’t especially funny and, after a while, register as both tedious and borderline desperate. They also suggest that Ms. McCarthy, and perhaps her collaborators, haven’t yet found a way for her to be completely comfortable in her own skin on screen. ... She’s a beautiful, funny, wildly popular female comic with terrific timing, movie star presence and oodles of charm. That she also happens to be fat may be historically notable although it is, finally, the most ordinary thing about her."

The Los Angeles Times' Betsy Sharkey calls it a "train wreck" at one point, noting of Falcone's direction, "You can sense his adoration in every scene, because he doesn't so much direct as watch and wait until the object of his affection is finished with whatever bit of madness she happens to be into at the moment. ... But it doesn't come together with the kind of satisfying punch a comedy should deliver." She notes that the most successful comedians in film try something different every once in a while, and though "her aggressive, in-your-face, physically fearless style was a refreshing surprise at first … shuffling the deck wouldn't mean walking away from comedy. It just means occasionally giving us, and herself, a break. Whether or not the actress can make the leap to Oscar-level work is an open question, but wouldn't it be nice if McCarthy tried to answer it?"

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SFGate's film critic Mick LaSalle comments that "as a first time director, Falcone has trouble maintaining a specific tone — the movie wobbles back and forth between sentimentality and silliness, sometimes even within the same scene." He found Bates to be the one actress in the film who catches the eye. "She talks about life and her struggles, and if you were to just walk in in those moments, you might actually think Tammy is a good movie."

The Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips gives Tammy 2½ stars because "the movie doesn't look like anything special" and "the number of reaction shots designed to cue audience adoration could choke a horse." He also agrees that Bates brings a glimmer of hope to the film, but for a different reason: "My favorite moment has nothing to do with story, or even the title character: It's a shot, held longer than usual depicting Bates on the dance floor, busting some moves resembling someone dealing with terrible back pain."

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