Notable for revving-up movies both good (Bridesmaids) and mediocre (Identity Thief) with her brash, no-holds-barred comic turns, here Melissa McCarthy gets her turn behind the wheel. First-time director and long-time husband Ben Falcone is understandably eager to show that she’s got more than raucous rants and slapstick under the bonnet.
So, this warm but terminally uneven road movie about a frustrated fast-food worker hitting the highway with her boozy granny sees a bratty but battered McCarthy going for pathos (she’s sacked, dumped, homeless, and stuns a deer, all in the first 10 minutes) as well as pratfalls.
The film exploits McCarthy’s engaging fearlessness – her USP – but also doesn’t stint on her trademark improv riffing (Tammy’s sacking is a whirlwind of licked burgers and ripe insults: “Chicken? It’s mostly dick and beak”). Her swaggering slapstick gets a run-out too, showcased in a wacky burger-bar robbery which charms even her victims.
Zig-zagging between being strident and heart-warming, Tammy loses its laughs in the gaps; even Melissa McCarthy’s exuberant comic capers can’t get this road-trip clunker out of first gear.