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Is ‘Tammy’ Secretly a Drama? (And 24 Other Urgent Questions)

Tammy review
Warner Bros.

Melissa McCarthy (‘White Oleander’) stars in this holiday weekend’s new release, ‘Tammy,’ opening on Wednesday. Who is this Tammy we speak of? Is ‘Tammy’ more of a drama than it is a comedy? As a service to all of humankind, we answer every question that you could possibly have about Tammy (the character) and ‘Tammy’ (the movie).

Q: Do we get to hear ‘Your Love’ by The Outfield during ‘Tammy’?

A: Yes. Twice, actually.

Q: Is it fair to say that if you’re a fan of The Outfield’s ‘Play Deep’ album, you will be a fan of ‘Tammy’?

A: It’s probably not fair to say that at all, but I would love to see a statistically accurate Venn diagram.

Q: So, how funny is ‘Tammy’? The previews look hilarious.

A: Strangely, ‘Tammy’ isn’t that funny.

Q: Do the jokes not work?

A: Though advertised as completely the opposite, ‘Tammy’ is more of a drama than a comedy.

Q: So there are no funny moments in ‘Tammy’?

A: There are a few funny moments, but watching this movie (written by McCarthy and her husband, director Ben Falcone) really does feel like watching a drama … with a few slapstick moments thrown in just because they wanted to sell it as a comedy.

Q: Who is Tammy?

A: Tammy is a woman who lives in rural Illinois who, after a series of unfortunate events, decides to leave town.

Q: What are the unfortunate events?

A: Well, first, Tammy gets into an auto accident with a deer – a scene that does produce some laughs – then, because of her disheveled appearance, is fired from her job at a fast food restaurant.

Q: That sounds more depressing than funny.

A: It doesn’t truly get sad until Tammy gets home and finds that her husband (Nat Faxon) is having dinner with another woman (Toni Collette). This revelation inspires Tammy to leave town with her alcoholic grandmother, Pearl (Susan Sarandon).

Q: Grandmother? What?

A: Sarandon is only 24 years older than McCarthy, but the lack of age discrepancy is never fully explained.

Q: Why does Tammy take her grandmother with her?

A: Because Tammy does not have any money and her grandmother has a few thousand dollars in cash available.

Q: Where are Tammy and Pearl going?

A: Their goal seems to be Niagara Falls, but there’s really no real reason they are going there other than to just see it.

Q: This sounds a little like ‘Nebraska.’

A: Before I saw ‘Tammy,’ I was told that the story was similar to Alexander Payne’s ‘Nebraska and I thought the person who told me that was nuts. As it turns out, ‘Nebraska’ is an apt comparison.

Q: Is ‘Tammy’ as good as ‘Nebraska’?

A: ‘Tammy’ is too scattershot in tone to be as good as ‘Nebraska.’ ‘Tammy’ (the movie) has a real identity problem and doesn’t seem very sure itself on what it wants to be. But, yes, the concept of a person driving across the country with an older, alcoholic family member is something we saw in last fall’s ‘Nebraska.’

Q: Will audiences like ‘Tammy’?

A: ‘Tammy’ isn’t a bad movie – and it’s much more interesting than the ad campaign would let on – but I suspect that audiences who are paying money to watch the dolt on the jet ski that they’ve seen on the television commercials are going to be disappointed by the family drama that is ‘Tammy.’

Q: Does Pearl’s alcoholism play a large role in ‘Tammy’?

A: Yes, which adds to the fact that this isn’t really a comedy.

Q: So Tammy isn’t a dolt?

A: No. And that’s kind of the biggest problem with ‘Tammy,’ because when she does doltish things, it’s feels really out of character. Almost in a “Hey, we need something funny for the commercials” kind of way.

Q: Is there an example of this?

A: In the scene in which Tammy robs a fast food restaurant (a crime that she’s committing in an effort to help her also diabetic grandmother) she’s seen in the parking lot doing a lot of dramatic gun poses, which is scene that works in ’22 Jump Street,’ not ‘Tammy.’

Q: What’s the funniest thing about ‘Tammy’?

A: Melissa McCarthy is a very gifted comedic performer, so she’s just naturally funny, so there will be laughs just from the way she interacts with people. But, the story itself is not a comedy.

Q: When I’m watching the robbery scene and I’m thinking, Boy, the woman at the cash register looks really familiar, where would I have seen her before?

A: That is Sarah Baker and most likely you know her from ‘Louie.’

Q: How many songs from The Black Crowes do we hear in ‘Tammy’?

A: One.

Q: Who is under-appreciated in every role he’s in?

A: Gary Cole. And Gary Cole does not disappoint here either.

Q: Who is great in everything he does but is kind of wasted here?

A: Mark Duplass. Cole and Duplass play father and son and while Cole gets to ham it up as a Kentucky ornery cuss, Duplass is just so nice. Like, almost unbelievably nice.

Q: Is there any gross-out humor in Tammy?

A: Not really. After being fired, Tammy licks her hands and touches some hamburger buns, but that’s the closest ‘Tammy’ gets to any gross-out humor.

Q: Should I see ‘Tammy’?

A: Again, if you’re looking for non-stop laughs, ‘Tammy’ isn’t really that type of movie. ‘Tammy’ really should be classified as a drama. It sounds like a criticism to say “it’s not funny,” but I don’t think it’s really trying to be funny.

Q: Does ‘Tammy’ continue the tradition that if a character tries to purchase an item from a vending machine, that purchased item will get stuck?

A: Yes. And just once I’d like to see a character in a movie have a positive experience with a vending machine.

Mike Ryan has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and GQ. He is the senior editor of ScreenCrush. You can contact him directly on Twitter.

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