RSS
 Add News     Print  
Article List
This image released by Warner Bros Pictures shows Melissa McCarthy in a scene from ‘Tammy.’ (AP)
McCarthy’s film misses funny bone Bates keeps roaring in ‘Tammy’

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif, July 5, (AP): Kathy Bates calls herself “an old lion.” The actress says she also plays one in the big-screen comedy “Tammy,” in theaters this weekend. Bates portrays Lenore, a successful entrepreneur who figuratively slaps sense into the film’s lovable loser of a titular character (Melissa McCarthy).

The 66-year-old “Misery” Oscar winner tells us more:

AP: I must admit I’m surprised to find you in this movie. You’ve done a few light comedies, such as Adam Sandler’s “The Waterboy.” But we’re used to seeing you in dramas.

Bates: I’d heard they (the creative team of McCarthy and husband Ben Falcone) wanted me for a part. I didn’t know what part. I told my agent, “I will play a giraffe with green spots, whatever they say.” (Laughs.)

AP: What was the appeal of McCarthy?

Bates: Even when she gets outrageous, when she gets on the most ridiculous jaunts and puts a bag on her head and all of that, you go with it, because it’s real. It’s grounded in reality. You almost believe, “Hey! I’d do that, too.”

AP: As Tammy and her grandmother (Susan Sarandon) careen out of control on their road trip, and in life, Lenore sets them both straight. She’s a role model.

Bates: I think of Lenore as an old lion. It’s taken her many years to create her business, to have a life for herself and (partner) Susanne (Sandra Oh). They met in college and I think they came out when it was very difficult for lesbians to be accepted.

AP: Vito Russo would have loved that Lenore is incidentally gay. Her sexuality isn’t the point of the character.

Bates: What I love about the way we are portrayed in the film is that Susanne and Lenore are a normal, healthy couple, which says, “You can’t legislate who you love.”

AP: What are the ties that bind you to Lenore?

Bates: I am an old lion, too. I’m nipping at the cubs quite a bit these days. When I get a young director who wants to do all these fancy shots and use all these wide lenses from a low angle, he’ll get nipped. (Laughs.) I have spent 50 years of my life learning about this craft. And I’m about to turn it over to the kids that are coming up, which I will do, willingly.

AP: But you’re by no means retiring. You couldn’t be much busier.

Bates: I can’t believe it. Let’s face it. When (her TV series) “Harry’s Law” got canceled and right after that I found out I had breast cancer and I had a double mastectomy that summer, I was pretty low. And I felt like I’d been kicked to the curb. And I didn’t know if I would ever work again. And then, a year later, along came Melissa and (“American Horror Story” producer) Ryan Murphy. I’m just grateful for all that. A few months ago, I made the choice not to have (breast) reconstruction, because it occurred to me, “I don’t want to go back to bed. I don’t want to be on (the painkiller) Oxycodone for two months. I’m having too much fun.”

AP: Ryan cast you in “American Horror Story: Coven,” and has said that you’ll appear in some capacity in the upcoming “American Horror Story: Freak Show.”

Bates: I know I’m part of the “Freak Show.” We live in Jupiter, Florida. And it’s the 1950s. I know it’s going to be out there Ñ a good place for an old lion to be.

q q q

Meet Tammy. Boy, is she a mess. Angry, profane and aggressive, then suddenly shy and sweet. Sometimes she’s funny, sometimes totally not. She can’t figure out what she wants to do or be, or where to go. She has loads of people around her, yet can’t figure out what to do with them. This one’s in desperate need of outside help.

And you thought we were talking about Tammy, the character Ñ played by lovable Melissa McCarthy in her first venture as producer, star and co-writer with husband Ben Falcone. Well, sure. But really we’re talking about “Tammy” the movie, about which all of the above descriptions are also true.

Especially the “mess” part. Oy.

Other recent comedies have been described as elongated “Saturday Night Live” skits, but it’s especially apt here, and not just because McCarthy and Falcone, who also directs, are veteran improv performers. Exaggerated characters, some wacky side plots, a couple of famous faces sprinkled in, and you’re off. Some of it’s good, some terrible, but you keep it all, Ôcause, hey, why not? It’s a comedy sketch.

Only this is a much anticipated, heavily promoted feature-length film, and as such, it can only be deemed an unfortunate, though ambitious and intermittently enjoyable, misfire for McCarthy, so adorably entertaining in better movies like “Bridesmaids” and “The Heat.”

Part of the problem is miscasting. “Tammy” is full of name actors: Susan Sarandon, Allison Janney, Toni Collette, Kathy Bates, Sandra Oh, Dan Akyroyd. Most are misused. (Bates is a happy exception.)

Most glaring of all: Sarandon plays Tammy’s doddering grandmother, Pearl, with whom Tammy goes on a female-bonding road trip (yes, obvious echoes of “Thelma and Louise”). Give her credit for trying, but really, Sarandon as a doddering grandma? McCarthy is 43. Sarandon is 67, but we all know she looks great for 50, maybe 45. They give her a dumpy pants ensemble, an unflattering gray wig and fake swollen ankles, but we don’t buy it for a minute. Just look at Sarandon’s glowing skin here Ñ she should be doing a Dove commercial.

It still might have worked if these two actresses had the comic chemistry (or the script) that made us laugh at the rowdy McCarthy teaming with the uptight Bullock in “The Heat.” No heat here, alas.

We first meet Tammy on, arguably, the worst day of her life. First, her car hits a deer. That makes her late for her job at Topper Jack’s burger joint, where she’s promptly fired by her sadistic boss Keith (Falcone), and responds by licking all the hamburger buns.

At home, she finds husband Greg (Nat Faxon) romancing neighbor Missi (Toni Collette, criminally underused). Furious, she runs home to her mother, Deb (Allison Janney, a great-looking 54-year-old, and thus also implausibly cast Ñ but whatever.)

Tammy wants to hit the road. That’s where Pearl comes in. She’s eager to stave off the nursing home, and has a huge wad of cash.

Misadventures ensue. Tammy totals a jet ski. Pearl gets drunk Ñ she’s a serious alcoholic, and a diabetic Ñ and ends up having sex in a car with a randy old guy, while his son (Mark Duplass, in a sweet performance) and Tammy watch in disgust. Tammy and Pearl get in trouble with the law. Tammy needs bail money for Pearl, so she robs a Topper Jack’s with a paper bag on her head.

Somehow the two end up Ñ and you knew this was coming Ñ at a huge lesbian July 4th party! The hosts are Pearl’s friend Lenore, played by the terrific Bates, and girlfriend Susanne (Sandra Oh, barely used at all.) This is where things go seriously wrong between Pearl and Tammy.

It all comes hurtling oddly, with weird rhythm and pacing, to an equally odd ending. At least Tammy Ñ the character, not the movie Ñ seems to know a little more about where she’s going.

Us? We’re still scratching our heads.

“Tammy,” a Warner Bros. release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America “for language, including sexual references.” Running time: 96 minutes. Two stars out of four.

 

Read By: 1461
Comments: 0
Rated:

Comments
You must login to add comments ...
About Us   |   RSS   |   Contact Us   |   Feedback   |   Advertise With Us