Blu-ray Review Comedy

A Blu-ray Review for the Road: Tammy

November 13, 2014Ben MK

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Here comes the "poom"...

Every comedian has their shtick. The trick is in knowing how to walk that fine line between entertaining audiences with it and annoying them. So far, it's something Melissa McCarthy has proven herself fairly adept at, with her roles in movies like Bridesmaids, Identity Thief and The Heat capitalizing on her own particular brand of crude humor mixed with genuine heart. And in Tammy, which McCarthy co-wrote with her husband and director, Ben Falcone, she once again reprises that familiar archetype, playing a down-on-her-luck loser trying to set her life straight.


The Film As Tammy, Melissa McCarthy is riding the crest of one Hell of a wave of bad luck. First, she manages to nearly kill a deer with her car; then, her jerk of a boss (Falcone) gives her the boot from her minimum wage job at fast food restaurant Topper Jack's; and finally, she comes home dejected to find her husband, Greg (Nat Faxon), in the middle of a romantic dinner with their neighbor, Missi (Toni Collette). It's enough to make a girl want to pack up and leave town, so that's exactly what she sets out to do.

There's just one problem — the first of many — she doesn't have a car. So she heads on over to her parents' (Allison Janney and Dan Aykroyd) home (conveniently located just two houses down the street), where her grandma, Pearl (Susan Sarandon), is more than willing to loan her her 2004 Cadillac De Ville. But only if Tammy lets her tag along. Reluctantly, Tammy agrees. What's the worst that could happen, right?

As it turns out, quite a lot. Tammy and Pearl don't even make it out of their small Missouri town before they're already drunk off their asses. And from there, things just continue to slide downhill. Tammy's attempt to operate a personal watercraft ends with her crashing it into the side of a dock. The two of them land in jail. To raise the bail money to spring Pearl from police custody, Tammy decides to rob another Topper Jack's franchise location. And so on and so forth.

Think of Tammy as the all-female answer to Bad Grandpa — only with less frequent, not to mention less hilarious, gags — as the movie is not so much about the character of Tammy herself and more about her dysfunctional relationship with her grandma Pearl, who also happens to be an alcoholic (and a mean one, at that). Likewise, the storyline sings a familiar tune: one that sees Tammy and Pearl trying to mend their strained familial connection, while at the same time engaging in a variety of lewd and crude activities at pit stops along the way.

It's all well and good, though it does tend to feel somewhat uninspired and quite formulaic more often than not. Even more so once you factor in a predictable subplot involving a rowdy suitor for Pearl (a farmer named Earl, played by Gary Cole) and his genteal son, Bobby (Mark Duplass), who just so happens to be Tammy's type. Other supporting players include Kathy Bates as Pearl's cousin and Sandra Oh as her lesbian life partner, but even their roles don't count for much more than a reason than to further the plot.

So while the cast performances are commendable, they're boxed in by the script's attempts to adhere to a genre formula. Hence, they fail to make an impression, which is more or less what can be said of the film itself. Tammy isn't necessarily the flat-out misfire others have made it out to be, but given the caliber of the actors involved, it does feel like a missed opportunity.

Audio/Visual Fidelity Tammy hits Blu-ray with both a 97-minute theatrical cut and a 101-minute extended cut, both of which feature quite the impressive A/V presentation. The hi-def transfer has an authentic, filmic look to it, exhibiting a fine grain structure that no doubt accurately replicates the movie's theatrical presentation. Image quality is nicely detailed and sharply resolved at all times, with above average contrast, black levels and shadow detail. And colors are nicely saturated from start to finish, whether it's the red and mustard yellow Topper Jack uniforms, Tammy's dark purple "Mahalo" T-shirt, or the blue paint job on Pearl's Cadillac. On the audio side, the disc's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack makes quick and easy work of the film's understated soundstage, which, as is typical of most comedies, consists primarily of spoken dialogue, intercut with a slew of songs from artists the likes of Willie Nelson, The Allman Brothers Band and Salt-N-Pepa.

Special Features Warner's Blu-ray release includes DVD and UltraViolet digital copies of the film, plus 19 minutes of HD bonus features, none of which provide any real insight into the making of the film, unfortunately. The closest thing to a making-of featurette is the 4-minute Tammy's Road Trip Checklist; but even that is just McCarthy and Falcone sharing anecdotes about the road trip they took with their four and seven-year-olds once filming wrapped. There's also a 3-minute Gag Reel and 5 minutes of Deleted Scenes ("Strip Club 1", "Strip Club 2", "Ski Burger" and "Hot Tub"). And lastly, the disc is rounded out with 6 minutes of "Fun Extras": Poom-O-Rama is a compilation of McCarthy's lines revolving around her use of the word "Poom" to accompany rude gestures; Wave-O-Rama features McCarthy delivering a variety of lines while riding a jet ski; and Mindless Chat-O-Rama consists of McCarthy and Sarandon improvising lines while in the car together.

The Bottom Line Despite the laundry list of Hollywood talent involved — including Will Ferrell and Adam McKay as producers, as well as a solid line-up of acting talent — Tammy never manages to live up to its potential. Instead, the film tries hard to play it safe; a strategy that ends up backfiring, as audiences will undoubtedly find both its humor and its characters to be quite bland. The same can't be said about the quality of the audio and video on Warner's Blu-ray release, however. In fact, its A/V presentation is quite pleasing to the eyes and ears. And with extras that are essentially superfluous, you can at least consider that to be some consolation.  Ben Mk

Disc Breakdown
The Film  —  
Audio/Visual Fidelity  —  
Special Features  —  

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