Tammy Delivers an Array of Female Characters Along with the Laughs
Tammy stars Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon in a granddaughter-grandmother road trip flick through diners, BBQ joints, and national forests on the way to Niagara Falls. It is Sarandon’s best road trip since Thelma and Louise. Tammy has a few good laughs, some funny lines (“Thanks Obamacare!”), and lots of female characters. Yay! McCarthy does her thing here and if you find her funny, you will enjoy her portrayal of the down-on-her-luck Tammy. Why not go see Tammy to take a break from the heat or a night out this summer?
Tammy’s inclusion of a variety of female characters was what made it most interesting to me. Tammy is a plus-size protagonist escaping a crappy job and a cheating husband. Pearl (Susan Sarandon) is a hard-drinking senior with diabetes seeking some thrills and pushing boundaries. She even has a fling with a much younger man, Earl (Gary Cole). Lenore (Kathy Bates) and Susanne (Sandra Oh) are a lesbian couple living well on the success of Lenore’s chain of retail stores. Even smaller parts like Tammy’s mom (Allison Janney), Becky (Sarah Baker) the fast food worker, and Missi (Toni Collette) the neighbor getting with Tammy’s husband all show different facets of the female perspective. Unfortunately, Oh has very little to do in the film other than be the younger lesbian partner. Her perspective is never explored. To that end, there is little diversity in race or ethnicity among the actors in Tammy, which is a missed opportunity. Yet, what I found so wonderful about Tammy was this array of women being funny, supportive, and at times giving each other reality checks in an R-rated comedy.
McCarthy dispenses the laughs as you expect from her: great timing and physical comedy. In Tammy, she gets to show a bit of her softer side as well. Something we didn’t get with The Heat. Tammy is a loving granddaughter and a love interest. She reflects on the hand life as dealt her and accepts the consequences of her actions. In our world shaped by media with constant displays of the thin ideal and aspirational messages about becoming happy through weight loss (or anti-aging treatments), McCarthy and Tammy show a different ideal. One I think needs more attention in Hollywood: who you are as a person and should take precedent over your body size and age.
I wouldn’t call Tammy a deep film and there are missed opportunities for character development. I could say the same for many other comedies. It plays for laughs foremost. You will laugh for sure and maybe cheer for the “Viking burial” at the lesbian Fourth of July party too. Tammy fits the bill for some relaxing summer fun.