Skip to main content

Originally published Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at 3:44 PM

  • Share:
  • Comments
  • Print

‘Tammy’ is just a bad trip

A review of Melissa McCarthy’s new film, “Tammy,” which tries too hard to do too many things — and therefore isn’t too funny. It rates 1.5 stars on a scale of 4.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie Review ★½  

‘Tammy,’ with Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Allison Janney, Gary Cole, Mark Duplass, Kathy Bates, Sandra Oh, Toni Collette, Nat Faxon. Directed by Ben Falcone, from a screenplay by Falcone and McCarthy. 96 minutes. Rated R for language, including sexual references. Several theaters.


The Melissa McCarthy comedy “Tammy” tries to be many things: road movie, coming-of-age-in-middle-age comedy, rom-com, poignant drama about family relationships, slapstick comedy. It does none of these things very well because it’s trying too hard — and because it just isn’t very funny. Written by McCarthy and her real-life husband, Ben Falcone, who also directed (in his feature debut), “Tammy” wanders all over the place, like its heroine. Watching it, you keep remembering how funny McCarthy was in “Bridesmaids” and wondering if it’s over yet; not exactly the right frame of mind for a supposedly jolly holiday-weekend romp.

McCarthy’s title character, as the film begins, is having a very bad day: She was fired from her fast-food job, totaled her car in an accident, came home to find her husband (Nat Faxon, barely in the movie) with another woman (Toni Collette, ditto). Tammy heads to the nearby home of her mother (Allison Janney, who’s not given a single even remotely interesting line) and grandmother Pearl (Susan Sarandon), and promptly enlists Grandma, who’s got some cash saved up, to go on a road trip. Off we go with Tammy and Pearl, for adventures involving theft, Jet Ski accidents, romantic entanglements, reconnection with relatives and eventual self-awareness and emotional renewal. Along the way, McCarthy yells a lot, and Sarandon wears frumpy grandma outfits, and I didn’t believe a word of it.

The problem isn’t the performers: McCarthy can be a scream in the right role (“Bridesmaids,” “The Heat”), and she’s got just a few tiny moments here where we suddenly realize that we want the best for this character; that she’s gotten under our skin just a bit. And the supporting cast is a line of pros, all of whom have the ability to carry a movie. But “Tammy” works hard at making its main character infantile and annoying, and its secondary characters simply react to her, rather than being given much in the way of personality of their own. Falcone hits every note in the movie too hard; something that might be mildly funny (such as Pearl grabbing a six-pack of beer from the fridge before leaving her daughter’s house) is given such emphasis that it dies right there on the screen. That’s “Tammy”: a comedy funeral, over and over and over.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or

Four weeks for 99 cents of unlimited digital access to The Seattle Times. Try it now!

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

The Seattle Times Historical Archives

Browse our newspaper page archives from 1900-1984

The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►