What Carte Blanche Can Do

Tammy * (out of five)

These days it seems more and more films get released straight to DVD and VOD, and not even because they’re so bad as to be unreleasable. Marketing is crazy expensive and if a studio or distributor thinks a film won’t cover its costs, straight to the shelf it can go.

Of course, if a film is so bad as to be unreleasable – say, if an intended comedy is not at all funny – then it makes sense to put it out of its misery, as it were, not just for economic reasons, but for the sake of “face”. A truly appalling film embarrasses all associated with it, and an unfunny comedy, forcing its cast to mug, shtick and galumph their way through an appallingly unfunny script, is the most embarrassing of all. It’s even embarrassing for the audience.

Tammy should have been given this humane euthanasia. Instead, it is being thrust, kicking and screaming (and screaming and screaming) into our theatres. Don’t follow it in.

Melissa McCarthy – who also wrote the script, with the first-time director, Ben Falcone (her husband) – plays the titular Tammy, an unbelievably inconsiderate, childish dolt who, upon getting (absolutely justifiably) fired from her fast-food job, splits her hometown in her grandmother’s car, with her grandmother (Susan Sarandon), who also brings along six thousand eight hundred dollars in cash. What are meant to be high jinks ensue.

A disaster as a comedy from the first frame to the last, the film is also unbelievably, smotheringly cloying, heaping more unearned sentimentality, false pathos and super-saccherinated schmaltz onto its “odd couple” than any adult should ever have to endure. McCarthy and Falcone want us to weep, but this effort is as horrendously misguided as the supposed comedy, and the music score Falcone lays on thick is almost a parody of terrible, schmaltzy movie music.

The story goes that the primary investor for Tammy saw Melissa McCarthy’s performance in Bridesmaids and gave her carte blanche to make whatever film she wanted, with whomever she wanted as director (“Hey, husband!”) The lack of any sort of script development – and the painfully knock-kneed direction – are up on the screen for all to see. The worst film thus far this year, by far. Avoid.

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