Kathy Bates stars in 'Tammy': The movie is too sappy once its characters hit the road

Kathy Bates and Melissa McCarthy star in 'Tammy,' which is better when it's humorous rather than emotional. Kathy Bates recently starred on 'American Horror Story.'

By , Film critic

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    'Tammy' stars Melissa McCarthy (r.) and Susan Sarandon (l.).
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Melissa McCarthy is a powerhouse, all right, but I’m discovering that a little bit of her goes a long way. 

“Tammy,” in which she plays a rejected wife who hits the road with her hard-drinking grandmother Pearl (Susan Sarandon), is a lot of yowling and clonking and bashing. McCarthy starts things out with a bang – literally – by hitting a deer in her car on her way to her job at a fast-food joint, where she is given the heave-ho by her snippy boss and retaliates by throwing food all over the place. This scene is actually funny, in a slobbola kind of way, but when “Tammy” turns into a road movie, it becomes increasingly sappy. I much prefer slobby to sappy. 

The still youthful-looking Sarandon playing a grandmother is a jolt, especially since she doesn’t resemble the doddering roustabout she’s supposed to be playing. Maybe that’s why the director Ben Falcone (McCarthy’s husband and, with her, the film’s co-writer) gives Sarandon a full head of gray hair. 

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Pearl’s alcoholism is alternately play for laughs and pathos – a hypocritical two-step. A lot of good actors are wasted in this film in bit roles, including Allison Janney, Sandra Oh, and Dan Aykroyd. The ones with bigger roles, like Mark Duplass and Kathy Bates, are wasted, too. Grade: C- (Rated R for language including sexual references.)

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