In Thelma & Louise, Susan Sarandon ends the movie driving the car over a cliff. I wanted her to drive the car over the cliff 15 minutes into this awful film. It’s a shame, because as funny as Melissa McCarthy was in Bridesmaids (and in a handful of scenes in The Heat), and as great as she is in interviews – I want to root for her. I even wrote a story knocking film critic Rex Reed for making fun of her weight. So when she did a bad movie (Identity Thief), I figured she deserved a big paycheck to do a crappy script. There’s no excuse for this mess, though. You see, she wrote and produced it with her husband Ben Falcone. He also directed it.
I understand the first half of the movie was a slapstick comedy with various set pieces in unoriginal places that comedies usually go. Fast food restaurants, country bars, the river, etc. None of the scenarios have anything remotely funny. The second half of the movie is more serious drama. The problem was – my date and I left after 45 minutes. We hated this character and this movie so much…we didn’t want to spend another minute with any of these people.
There were three times I smiled, but didn’t quite laugh. When Sarandon (who doesn’t come remotely close for passing as an 80-year-old grandmother) puts on huge sunglasses and McCarthy calls them “Mr. Magoo glasses.”
In another scene Sarandon says she had an affair with Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers (sounds like a line out of The Banger Sisters). To which McCarthy responds, “I was once fingered by Boz Scaggs.” Even that line would’ve been funnier if they ended it with that, but no. They ruin the humor by having McCarthy elaborate.
Oh, and there was a time Falcone (who is her boss at the fast food restaurant) fires her. She goes into the kitchen and rubs her hair on some food, and licks the buns on a tray of burgers. The visual of a person going nuts in a burger place is always funny (remember Michael Douglas in Falling Down?).
The set piece that is the biggest attempt at laughs is when McCarthy robs a fast food place. Again, nothing original or humorous happens in that scene. We’re supposed to laugh at the fact that she not only steals money, but five pies. It made me think about the comedies that used pies and did make me laugh; Jason Biggs having sex with one in American Pie, or Albert Brooks getting seven of them at a restaurant in Defending Your Life. Yet McCarthy and Falcone think it’s funny that a fat woman would think about pies while robbing a place; or have her fall asleep eating powdered donuts, and generally have her running around looking like Chris Farley. Perhaps I owe Rex Reed an apology.
The movie starts with Tammy (McCarthy) being fired, and going home to find her husband having dinner with a neighbor (Nat Faxon and Toni Collette, from my favorite movie of last year – The Way, Way Back). Allison Janney (also from that film) plays her mom, although she doesn’t look much older than McCarthy.
She decides she’s going to take her grandmothers (Sarandon) car and hit the road. Grandma comes along because she has some money. Yet we don’t know anything about any of these characters, because the untalented duo that wrote it feels that’s not necessary. They just want to get you from one set piece to another, with lame attempts at humor. That means mispronouncing Mark Twain, driving a jet ski into a pier, or mistaking Neil Armstrong for Lance Armstrong. These are the types of jokes a 10th grader would write.
My date said it best when the Canned Heat song “Going Up the Country” came on as we watched the Cadillac drive out of a forest. “Don’t they play this song in every movie that has a road trip scene?”
She was thrilled when I suggested we leave at the 45 minute mark. So we didn’t even get to the lesbian 4th of July party Kathy Bates and her partner Sandra Oh had. I never saw the Dan Aykroyd part. The few scenes with Gary Cole and Mark Dupress, usually reliably humorous on screen, were horribly unfunny or uninteresting.
Another problem, which was the same in Identify Thief and The Heat – if you make McCarthy so unlikable, we don’t have any sympathy later in the movie when perhaps we should. McCarthy runs around acting like Chris Farley, but the difference was – even if Farley was in a bad Adam Sandler movie, he usually did a few things that were funny. Just having an unattractive, vile, person on screen saying crude things isn’t humor. If they fall asleep outside a hotel room with powdered donuts in their hand and a raccoon eating those donuts – again, not funny. For a woman that started out with The Groundlings, I think she’d be able to re-read the script and realize that, although amusing the first time her and Falcone may have conceived it, it doesn’t work on screen.
In an interview, McCarthy talked about how they wrote lots of these scenes on napkins and on toilet paper. The script sure is reminiscent of something you’d find on toilet paper.
I’m giving it 0 stars out of 5, but was tempted to give it negative stars.