Tag Archives: Melissa McCarthy

Slowing Her Roll

 

Tammy

by George Wolf

Though I grudgingly admit there’s a Melissa McCarthy backlash out there, I’m having no part of it.  She’s an often hilarious comic powerhouse who has been on a roll since her Oscar-nominated breakthrough in Bridesmaids.

Her latest, though, slows that roll considerably.

Tammy is McCarthy’s first project as a headliner, from a script she co-wrote with her husband Ben Falcone (who also directs).  Deciding to make it a road movie may have been their first mistake.

In one very bad day, Tammy (McCarthy) manages to lose her job, her car and her husband. Her mother (Allison Janney) offers little more than tough love, but Tammy’s grandmother Pearl (Susan Sarandon) has cash, wheels, and a travelin’ jones.

Off they go.

You can imagine how road movies are tempting for comedy writers, but the gimmick too often amounts to taking the path of least resistance. Got a few ideas for some randomly absurd skits? Just connect them with a stretch of highway or some winding country roads, and you’ve got yourself a movie!

McCarthy is a better bet than most to pull it off, and she showed that last year, scoring solid laughs in Identity Thief. But, that film also gave her the benefit of a better script, a great straight man in Jason Bateman, and a much more solid premise.

Tammy offers precious little support on any front. Sarandon, playing well above her age, settles for overacting in place of comic timing, while only a whisp of exposition is offered before they hit the highway.

McCarthy, through sheer force of her onscreen presence, does manage to find a little funny, but the glimpses of how this character might have carried a film are never fully developed.  McCarthy and Falcone may one day become a filmmaking power couple, but Tammy proves they still need a bit more seasoning.

 

Verdict-2-0-Stars

 

Have I Seen You Somewhere Before?

The Heat

by Hope Madden

It’s interesting how a film can be so familiar and so unusual at the same time. Take The Heat. Pairing an A-list movie star with a proven comic talent for a buddy cop comedy is hardly a fresh idea. 48 Hours, Rush Hour, The Other Guys – it’s been done, and it doesn’t always work. Still, it is a well-worn concept that often delivers enough laughs to merit a couple of hours.

Now, thanks mostly to the deserved popularity of Bridesmaids, it has finally occurred to someone in Hollywood that women can shoulder an R-rated comedy. So, bro-mance is not a requirement for this odd couple caper, in which both cops are women – specifically,  Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.

Bullock is the uptight Ashburn to McCarthy’s loose cannon Mullins, the Felix to her Oscar, the Danny Glover to her Mel Gibson. They’ve been paired against their wills to ferret out a Boston drug lord. Maybe they’ll exploit each other’s foibles in the process, maybe even find an unexpected friend. (I’ll give them this – at no time does either detective say she is getting too old for this shit.)

The two leads fill the requisite roles quite well, Bullock’s angular, anal-retentive is the perfect foil for McCarthy’s unkempt profanity volcano. Bullock keeps pace admirably, but McCarthy is such an inexhaustible comedy explosion that the rest of the cast doesn’t have to work too hard. Her every line feels improvised, giving Katie Dippold’s otherwise predictable script much needed vitality.

McCarthy’s riotous performance honestly outshines everything about a film that’s content to coast on the novelty of female casting. Nothing else about The Heat bears remark – clichéd comedy trappings familiarly staged and directed, with Sandra Bullock relying on her Miss Congeniality stylings. It’s not terrible, but certainly nothing to write home about.

But there is nothing stale about McCarthy. Her talent for physical gags, her impeccable timing, and her bottomless well of one-liners gives every scene, however tired, the opportunity for a laugh.

 

Verdict-3-0-Stars

A Tale of Two Sandys

 

 

By George Wolf

As far back as his childhood days in the 80s as Ricky Schroder’s wise-cracking friend Derek on Silver Spoons, Jason Bateman has displayed flawless comic timing. Melissa McCarthy, on the other hand, has burst on the scene in the last few years, with 2011’s Bridesmaids firmly establishing her as a major comic talent.

Put them together in a road picture, and you’ve got comedy gold, right? Well….

Don’t get me wrong, Identity Thief does deliver some laughs, just not as many as these  two stars would suggest.

Bateman is Sandy Patterson, a financial manager in Denver who deflects constant comments about his first name (“it’s not feminine, it’s unisex!”) while wondering if his jump to a new job at a start-up firm is a good move for his growing family.

McCarthy is also Sandy Paterson, the illegal Florida version. That is, after she makes him her latest identity theft victim and starts racking up credit card bills and arrest records in his name.

As the real Sandy discovers why his life is unraveling, he hatches a plan to travel South and bring the veteran conwoman back to Colorado authorities so she can prove his innocence.

After some great moments of physical comedy as Bateman struggles to apprehend McCarthy, the film settles in as a cross between Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Due Date.

Director Seth Gordon, fresh from the very funny Horrible Bosses (also with Bateman), does his best to bring the same breezy, ad-libbed approach to his latest, and that is a wise move. Writer Craig Mazin’s script, weak on its own, is rescued by the sheer talent of the two leads.  Even when the story makes the inevitable turn toward sentimentality, Bateman and McCarthy keep it from collapsing.

3 stars (out of 5)