Melissa McCarthy goes for broke in Tammy

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Starring Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon. Rated 14A. Now playing

Tammy is a road picture for people who like to throw their leftover junk food out the car window. Considering that it features a beer swilling Melissa McCarthy at the wheel—along with a bourbon guzzling Susan Sarandon riding shotgun—I’m tempted to call it a white trash Thelma & Louise. But, since this could possibly be misconstrued as a compliment, let’s call it a weird cross between Dumb and Dumber and Dr. Phil.

The story focuses on McCarthy in the title role. She’s a foul-mouthed fast food worker who suddenly find’s herself out of a job. Arriving home early, she discovers that her husband is having an affair with their mousy neighbour. Tammy’s determined to blow town. The problem? She doesn’t have a car.

Enter Tammy’s grandmother, Pearl (Sarandon), a hard-drinking diabetic whose major claim to fame is that she “slept with the wrong Allman Brother”. Pearl is anxious to escape the restrictive environment provided by Tammy’s parents (Dan Aykroyd and Allison Janney in mercifully brief roles). So off they go.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be anybody nursing the brakes. What follows is a steaming scoop of low humour punctuated by the odd moment of self-help propaganda. It’s a self-indulgent combo. But, then, the screenplay for Tammy is a family enterprise. McCarthy serves as co-writer with her husband Ben Falcone, who also directs. As things lurch along, you can practically hear them saying: “Let’s throw that in. It could be good.” Trust me. It’s not.

There are a lot of flaws to choose from. The biggest? Casting Susan Sarandon as a feisty grandma who flashes her boobs when she’s drunk. Forget the dusting of grey in her hair and the polyester slacks; she still looks younger than anyone else in the movie. The worst part? Her heart really isn’t in this.

If there’s a bright spot here, it’s that McCarthy goes for broke. She can be both appealing and convincing, but she’s continually fighting a script that refuses to gel. There’s a lot of name talent here—including Kathy Bates. They’re all instantly forgettable.

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