Tammy

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Tammy
swan_bottom_of_the_barrel
Runtime 96 minutes.
Not for children.

Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone in “Tammy.”

Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone in “Tammy.”

There was a movie named Tammy and the Bachelor in 1957. Starring Debbie Reynolds, it was a charming romance and featured an eponymous no. 1 hit. It was sung over the opening credits by the Ames Bros., and then later in the movie by Reynolds, who got the hit. It was sweet and funny.

When you see that this movie is co-produced by Will Ferrell, who seems bent on destroying comedy as we know it, it will come as no surprise that this Tammy has no relationship to Debbie’s Tammy.

Where Debbie’s Tammy was beautiful and sweet and innocent, Melissa McCarthy’s Tammy is of meager intelligence, gross, and vulgar. Worse, director Ben Falcone (McCarthy’s husband) can’t seem to decide if he’s making a vulgar comedy or a film of maturation and relationships. The result is neither.

There don’t seem to be any high moral values that are emphasized; rather anomie is glorified. Susan Sarandon plays an alcoholic, oversexed grandmother who is so over-the-top she destroys credulity, not that the movie had any anyway. She acts shamelessly and it’s played for laughs (unsuccessfully). Undoubtedly due to Ferrell’s influence, the movie goes out of its way to be crude.

The last movie in which I saw McCarthy, Identity Thief (2013), surprised me because it was so funny. So I started this movie programmed to laugh, which I did at the beginning. My companion at the movie nailed it. She said, “It was good for the first six minutes and then it started downhill.” And, like a rock, the downhill roll kept gaining speed so that with 30 minutes left I was in agony, praying for a mercifully quick termination. But thinking about it after the ordeal finally ended, I think I was laughing at the beginning because I was expecting to laugh, not because it was funny.

There are many small roles, indeed little more than cameos, by stars such as Allison Janney, Kathy Bates, Sandra Oh, Dan Aykroyd, and Toni Collette, but they add nothing to the movie, so puerile are the story, script, and directing.

There were some outtakes interspersed with the end credits. I stayed for the first few but they were no better than the movie, so I didn’t stay for the rest of the outtakes.

Sex Tape
swan_bottom_of_the_barrel
Runtime 98 minutes.
Not for children.

Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz in “Sex Tape.”

Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz in “Sex Tape.”

This has a promising premise. A married couple, Jay (Jason Segel) and Annie (Cameron Diaz), bored with the sex in their marriage, decide to make a sex tape to instill some vibrancy into their sex. Although she tells him to erase it, he doesn’t, and it gets out and is on the cusp of going viral. So they set out to get it back and off the server.

Alas, a comedy like this requires several things. The first is a good, intelligent script. This one is written by Kate Angelo (who gets story credit), Segel & Nicholas Stoller. Strike one. They start out with Annie ending a sentence with “…for Jay and I,” indicating that either they are functionally illiterate or want us to think that Annie is. Worse (but not surprising given that Segel is a protégé of Judd Apatow, and Stoller is responsible for the unfunny Neighbors earlier this year), they fill the script with F-bombs and dialogue and sexual incidents that are too silly to be considered childish. The second is good directing. Strike Two. This one is directed by Jake Kasdan, another Apatow acolyte, so you begin to get the drift of this film. Like Judd, his idea of comedy is to use vulgar language and situations that are more puerile than funny. He has virtually no sense of pace. The third is good actors. Strike Three. Segel and Diaz simply are not up to the job. This story required the subtlety of a Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. Segal and Diaz have about as much subtlety as an atomic bomb. Still, there were some scenes, like one where Diaz snorts coke and is affected by it, where an accomplished comedic actress could have had a field day. Segel’s confrontation with an attack dog is equally ineffective.

Then there is the nudity. Even though there’s a lot of it, it’s not the least bit sexy, concentrating on shots of people’s bums, most of which are Segel’s. It’s not funny or entertaining to see Segel walk away from the camera naked. It’s disgusting, which sums up this tasteless movie.

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