Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 36.
Our content ratings (0-10): Violence 3; Language7; Sex/Nudity 7.
Our star rating (0-5): 2
Honor your father and your mother,
I am assuming that the Fifth Commandment refers to grandparents as well as parents. Thus working class slob Tammy (Melissa McCarthy), as we see in this road film, starts out violating this time-honored, because she has no respect, and little liking for her alcoholic grandmother Pearl (Susan Sarandon). But at the opening of the film, Pearl is far from her thoughts. She hits a deer that badly damages her car. Her face bleeding from impacting the windshield, the disheveled Tammy is late for her job at Topper Jack’s fast food restaurant. In one of the funniest firing scenes I’ve seen in a long time, her boss (played by her real life husband Ben Falcone, also director) tells her she is “terminated.” She leaves, but not without a noisy protest that disturbs fellow employees and customers. Judging by her petulant behavior, one wonders how she kept her job as long as she did.
Her bad day continues when she arrives home on foot, her car having conked out. She finds her husband serving up an intimate meal with Missi, a family friend. She flies off the handle, using the divorce word, and walks three houses down to her parents’ home and demands the keys from Mom (Allison Jenny) for either the truck or the car. Mom refuses, and this is when Grandma enters the picture, whiskey close at hand, offering to go on a trip with her. Pearl is the last person Tammy would choose, but when the old gal flashes a wad of bills—close to $7K—Tammy is suddenly agreeable. They set out for Niagara Falls, but a series of episodes in a Missouri state park and Louisville both fray and eventually cement their relationship.
The film has been panned virtually by all the critics, and yet, though I disliked the gutter language and acceptance of cheap sex, I have not laughed so much at a screening in a long time. The audience kept laughing so much that at times I could not hear a line of one character or another. Best thing for me about the film is the non-judgmental inclusion of Kathy Bates and Sandra Oh as the lesbian couple Lenore and Susanne who have lived together for almost as long as Tammy has been alive. During a moment at a July 4 party when the drunken Pearl has publicly humiliated Tammy, and Tammy has replied in kind, so that it looks like the two will part, Lenore imparts some wise advice to the younger woman that benefits both granddaughter and grandmother.
This movie is nowhere near the league of Thelma &Louise, but it is better than the professional critics are willing to admit, at least for those wanting simple-minded escapist entertainment—and are willing to put up with the already mentioned foul language and casual sex. The casting of the 40-something Melissa as the daughter of the 50-something Allison Janney, as well as Sarandon who is less than 20 years older than the star—this is a lot to swallow. But no one can play a loud-mouthed messy slob better than Melissa McCarthy, and then in the next scene manage to look well groomed and attractive. Because of the language and sexual content I won’t spend the time thinking up some discussion questions. I find it hard to imagine a faith group wanting to spend time with such a movie when so many really good comedies are available, such as Words and Pictures.