A little Melissa McCarthy goes a long way in “Tammy,” co-written by McCarthy and husband Ben Falcone (who also directs).
This is a comedy with intriguing elements around the edges, but ultimately falls flat because of its overbearing lead performance from McCarthy.
She plays the title character, who loses her job and learns her husband is cheating on her on the same day.
Tammy decides she needs a fresh start but, with no money or car, has to agree to bring her grandmother Pearl (Susan Sarandon) along for the ride.
The two set out on a journey to see Niagara Falls, but wind up in a series of quirky misadventures that ultimately bring the two closer together.
McCarthy is basically playing the same character she’s played since her breakout role in “Bridesmaids,” with one major difference: She is asked to carry the film this time. There lies the problem – McCarthy’s comedy is better when she has someone to play off, whether it be Kristen Wiig in “Bridesmaids” or Sandra Bullock in “The Heat.”
The schtick grows old fast here. A mildly amusing opening scene when Tammy is fired is the lone highlight.
What’s more interesting is the supporting characters, headlined by Sarandon’s boozed up, diabetic Pearl. She isn’t given much to do but play second fiddle to Tammy, but I found her way more fascinating and deserving of her own film.
“Tammy” also gets a jolt from an appearance by Kathy Bates in the final act, part of a cast that also includes Toni Collette, Dan Aykroyd and Mark Duplass.
The talent is certainly there in “Tammy,” but it is all pretty much handcuffed by a weak script.
Opening this week
“Belle” (B) arrives in Bowling Green this weekend after a run in larger markets the last two months. It’s a film that has its strengths, enough to avoid what could have been a deadly melodramatic plot thread.
“Belle” is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy captain raised by her great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife Lady Mansfield (Emily Watson).
Belle is given certain privileges, but not fully allowed the endeavors of her social status due to the color of her skin.
It’s an arrangement Belle begins to question as she grows into a young woman and watches her cousin and best friend Elizabeth Murray (Sarah Gadon) become acclimated into the social circles in search of a husband.
As Elizabeth begins to court potential suitors, Belle finds love in John Davinier (Sam Reid) – a lawyer without social standing who is standing for the rights of slaves in a landmark case that is being decided by Lord Mansfield.
Director Amma Asante has crafted a film that is part Jane Austen and part historical drama, with one element more interesting than the other.
Mbatha-Raw carries the film well, with a quiet observation of her surroundings as she tries to define who she is.
The backdrop of the slave case, which involves the denial of an insurance claim after sick slaves are murdered on a cargo ship, is where “Belle” is at its strongest – playing to the strengths of this talented cast.
Belle’s growing relationship with her aunt and uncle is also effective.
The romantic elements are the weaker parts of the film, bordering on predictable melodrama that just feel tacked on to appeal to a wider audience and soften some of the drama of the other plot threads.
Fortunately, the flaws are forgivable – making “Belle” a small film that audiences looking for a blockbuster alternative should seek out.
“Belle” is PG for thematic elements, some language and brief smoking images and opens Friday at the Regal Bowling Green Stadium 12.
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon
Director: Ben Falcone
Rating: R for language including sexual references
Playing at: Regal Bowling Green Stadium 12, Highland Cinemas (Glasgow)