Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. USA, 2014. Gary Sanchez Productions, New Line Cinema, On The Day Productions. Screenplay by Melissa McCarthy, Ben Falcone. Cinematography by Russ T. Alsobrook. Produced by Will Ferrell, Melissa McCarthy, Adam McKay. Music by Michael Andrews. Production Design by Jefferson Sage. Costume Design by Wendy Chuck. Film Editing by Michael L. Sale.
Melissa McCarthy plays a mouthy, unkempt fast food employee whose day begins badly when she hits a deer on the road, her boss (Ben Falcone, McCarthy’s real life-husband who directed the film and with whom she co-wrote the script) fires her and sends her home to her husband (Nat Faxon), who it turns out is having an affair with her neighbor (Toni Collette). Sick and tired of a small life in a small town, McCarthy throws a bunch of messy clothing into a car, grabs her alcoholic, ornery grandmother (Susan Sarandon) and hits the road, looking for adventure but, between her manic personality and Sarandon’s dependence on booze, finding way more trouble than anything else. McCarthy is looking to please fans of Bridesmaids and The Heat by highlighting her improvisational monologues and physical masochism wherever she can, but then dark elements like parental neglect are helicoptered in from what feels like a different movie and, rather than enriching a buddy comedy, make it feel like it’s being stitched together from many different scripts. There’s an unpleasant combination of elements that is so poorly assembled that the film has all the appeal of a crazy subway rider who won’t leave you alone. Tammy’s penchant for reacting to everything by screaming and swearing at the top of her lungs is more often embarrassing than funny, and while Sarandon has never been unpleasant to watch in anything, the film’s desire to explore her addiction is never convincing, conflicting with scenes of playing up her drinking like it’s a subplot of The Hangover. Even more disingenuous, actually, is that even with a grey mop wig on her head you never buy that Sarandon is McCarthy’s grandmother, and Allison Janney between them as McCarthy’s mother is that much more ridiculous to swallow. The only moment of actual grace, and the only scene that lands, is a terrific monologue by Kathy Bates in which she gives our lead character her comeuppance and tells her that life isn’t about what you want but what you earn. Unfortunately, our heroine is not someone whose redemption has been made all that important to us, and we spend most of the movie wondering why she hasn’t been placed in supervised care.