I’d be lying if I said I was excited at the prospect of a new comedy featuring Melissa McCarthy in a lead role. She’s far better in small doses where her very specific comedic style can hit and run before viewers can grow weary of the same old shtick involving attitude, crass behavior, and physical comedy derived from her large frame. This “character” is essentially what she plays again and again, with little deviation, and while it’s not nearly as insufferable as the ones recycled by the likes of Adam Sandler and Kevin James, it still doesn’t work at feature length.
Then again, Identity Thief and The Heat were box-office hits and numbers one and two (respectively) on RedBox’s list of most rented titles in 2013, so what the hell do I know.
McCarthy’s (sure to be) blockbuster comedy of 2014 has just gotten a first teaser trailer, and while it’s still early, this may end up being where I eat my words above. Tammy stars McCarthy as a woman having a terrifically bad day. She lost her job, found her husband cheating on her, and smashed her car, and she just wants out. Unfortunately, the only out she has is a road trip with a grandmother (Susan Sarandon) she just doesn’t like all that much. It also stars Dan Aykroyd, Kathy Bates, Mark Duplass, and Allison Janney.
Check out the teaser below and see if you enjoy it as much as I did. I know, I’m surprised too.
Opening with the sound of Coolio’s nearly two decades old “Gangsta’s Paradise” isn’t the best way to engender anticipation of fresh comedy, but I’ll be damned if I wasn’t having a laughing fit by the end of the teaser. McCarthy’s “Come on!” as she starts struggling with the wooden spoon just kills me. Is the character all that different from the ones she plays in Identity Thief or The Heat? Probably not, but the tone in this (admittedly brief) teaser manages to be more comedically flustered than angry or aggressive, and I’m hoping that bodes well.
The question is whether or not the rest of the film can find more for her to do beyond pratfalls and visual gags about her girth. One sign of hope is the fact that McCarthy co-wrote the film alongside her husband, Ben Falcone, who also directed. Can they create something memorable and funny that still manages to appeal to her fan base? It’s her debut as a writer and his as a director (although he’s written a few episodes of The Looney Tunes Show), and it’s probably a safe assumption that they both know McCarthy’s talents include actual acting ability that she gets to use far too infrequently.
She’s far from the first overweight performer to find success using her big bones to tickle your funny bones, and while there are numerous funny men and funny ladies with one-note comedic shticks McCarthy is one of the few to show she’s capable of going higher on the scale. That’s a poorly-worded play on words, but my point is she can hit higher notes. Happily, while Tammy will hopefully offer her that opportunity it’s not her only one this year. She’s also starring in the less comedically bombastic St. Vincent De Van Nuys alongside Bill Murray, Terrence Howard, Chris O’Dowd, and Naomi Watts. After watching this teaser I’m looking forward to them both.
Tammy opens July 7th, 2014.