The Kitchen

The Kitchen

By: Kevin Jordan

A woman’s place.

The Kitchen might be one of my favorite cases for guessing what the movie is about when you only know the title. The Kitchen could be a spinoff of Downton Abbey. It could be a Bobby Flay documentary. It could be a horror film in which Gordon Ramsey murders the entire cast of a cooking reality show set in a cabin in the woods (and none of this PG-13 bullshit). The possibilities are endless. In this case, The Kitchen is about three women who take over the protection racket in the Hell’s Kitchen area of New York City in the 1970s. I am disappointed about not getting to see Ramsey bludgeon someone to death with a meat tenderizer, but, sure, racketeering it is.

Our story begins with the introduction of our three main characters. Kathy Brennan (Melissa McCarthy) is a loving and loyal wife, caring for her two children and husband. Ruby O’Carroll (Tiffany Haddish) is married to the son of mob boss Helen O’Carroll (Margo Martindale) and Helen really disapproves of the young, black Ruby marrying into a white Irish family. Claire Walsh (Elisabeth Moss) is a punching bag for her abusive husband. All three are married to men working as low level enforcers/protection money collectors for the O’Carroll crime family. When the three husbands are caught and arrested during an attempted robbery, their respective wives are suddenly left fending for themselves.

Since the movie only has a 100-minute run time, it does not take long for the women to resort to collecting protection money from local businesses (Helen goes to a job placement agency, but that is the extent of their job search). The women’s pitch to proprietors is that they will actual provide the protection the proprietors are paying for, since Helen had stopped providing the protection long ago (while still collecting payments). They quickly take over much of the Helen’s territory and the movie becomes a question of how long will the women last.

I would tell you more about this picture, but there isn’t time.

The biggest flaw with this film is how rushed it feels. After telling us how Helen was providing no protection, the film spends a scant a couple of minutes showing us the women’s enforcers shooting a pimp and chasing away a couple of homeless people, then jumping ahead to the intra-mob warfare. We need to see this development to be able to identify with the women as the noble gangsters, but the film plows right on past development to get to the mob stuff. It’s like expecting a full season of your favorite team, but getting Tigers-Marlins instead.

This holds for other aspects of the film as well. Ruby lacks the most development of the three women, mostly just a walking sneer who, halfway through the film, starts turning on Claire and Kathy for no reason. When she goes after Helen, there is no real satisfaction because neither character has really earned much reaction from us. Then, there is the reveal at the end, which is unceremoniously dropped on us with no work whatsoever to get there. Even worse, it doesn’t make sense, especially when Kathy realizes where some of their money had disappeared to.

Weren’t you listening!? We’re in a hurry! Go! Go!

It’s not all shrugs and mehs though. McCarthy proves that her dramatic turn in Can You Ever Forgive Me? (which I still have not seen) was not a fluke. As much as I loathe her comedic films, she was actually the main reason I wanted to see The Kitchen in the first place. Moss is also very good and her Claire is easily the most sympathetic character in the film. Claire gets sympathy partially because her abusive husband is an asshat, but moreso because Claire embraces her criminal evolution with infectious glee and finds a stabilizing companion in Gabriel O’Malley (Domhnall Gleeson) who wants nothing more than to live for Claire. The two of them are most definitely a Bonnie and Clyde analog, but, to paraphrase Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop, “the people they killed were all bad.” Just remember that when Gabriel instructs Claire on how to properly dispose of a body.

One last thing I liked was that the film doesn’t use gender as a crutch, which is what equality actually means. The proprietors don’t blink at switching their allegiance from a man to a woman because all they care about is getting something for their money. An Italian mobster (Bill Camp) in Brooklyn makes a deal with them because it is good business, not because he has a soft spot for them. Gabriel and Claire enjoy a bit of role reversal, with Gabriel hanging on Claire’s every word and Claire taking charge of their relationship. Finally, Kathy, who starts off as the good wife and mother and must inevitably make a decision based on logic rather than stereotypical female emotion. The phrase “a woman’s place is in the kitchen” is wholly redefined in this film.

Unfortunately, the solid parts of this film are not enough to overcome its shortcomings. The rushed pacing and shoddy development make the movie seem over-edited; like far too much was left on the cutting room floor. More time should have been spent developing characters and Hell’s Kitchen itself to help the audience understand any of the stakes in play. On the bright side, I am glad to know that I can sit through and even enjoy a McCarthy performance. Though, I would have enjoyed a Ramsey performance much more.

Rating: Ask for seven dollars back and all that footage that was cut.

Ghostbusters (2016)

By: Kevin Jordan

A perfect shit storm.

gb poster

To quote Mrs. White from Clue, “I hated it sooo much, it, it, it…flames, flames, flames, on the side of my face, breathing, breathle…heaving breaths.”  It’s very possible that I overreacted to the Ghostbusters remake/reboot, but that quote accurately portrays my initial feelings of the Ghostbusters remake.  In fact, if I didn’t feel an obligation as part of the press to finish the movie, I would have walked out of the theater, which I have yet to do in my lifetime.  My friend even commented that he could feel the hate emanating from me as the movie wore on.  To be fair to the movie, I didn’t want to leave solely because the film was a wretched piece of crap (I’ve seen plenty of films like that and never left), but also because the majority of the audience was gleefully eating it up like a dog sometimes does its own feces.  So, unlike every reviewer I’ve read so far (even Richard Roeper, the one critic who trashed this movie), I’m not going to hold anything back.  You’ve been warned (and, yes, that means SPOILERS galore).

My friend and my wife both think I hated the movie in no small part because I wanted to hate the movie prior to even seeing it.  After stewing on it for a day, I think there is a lot of truth in that, though not the part about hating it.  It’s true that I went into the movie with expectations so low you’d have to dig a hole to find them and it’s also true that I wanted this movie to suck purely because remaking all-time classics is offensive to my movie-going soul (you’re next Ben-Hur) and Ghostbusters is most definitely a classic.  But, I didn’t go into the movie wanting to hate it – not even I am that spiteful.  It’s also true that I find Melissa McCarthy to be the least funniest human on the planet and this planet features people like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  I find her comedic timing terrible, her voice and delivery more irritating than what the offspring of Gilbert Gottfried and Fran Drescher would sound like, and her one note shtick of always playing a dickish character tiresome.  On top of all of that, Sony gave us arguably the worst movie trailer ever released, one that depicts a movie appearing to have all the intelligence of a wombat.  So…yeah, this movie had a mountain of work to do to please me.  Is that unfair?  Maybe.  But, with the exception of not being a Ghostbusters movie, Spy had all of the same elements (plus three really good actors not named Melissa McCarthy), even the same director/writer (Paul Feig), and I had the same level of bottom-scraping expectations for it as Ghostbusters.  Yet, I found Spy to be surprisingly decent, so at least you know I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong.  Ghostbusters just isn’t one of those times when I’m wrong.

I was wrong about you too.  You were good in The Martian.

I was wrong about you too. You were good in The Martian.

You should know that I went into the movie pre-annoyed due to miserable traffic causing us to be late to the screening.  We walked in just as the opening sequence was ending and sat down as the title splashed across the screen.  This did not put me into a forgiving kind of mood.  The next scene introduces us to Dr. Gilbert (Kristin Wiig) finishing up teaching a physics class when a man comes in to ask her for help with a ghost problem.  He asks her if she is the same person as the author of a ghost book and we spend the next minute or so cringing at her denying being the co-author, until finally giving up and admitting it.  This is not funny, especially when the joke serves the extra purpose of making the requester feel stupid.  This is the kind of humor I can’t stand because it’s lazy, unfunny, and drags on for far too long.  Don Kaye of Den of Geek sums it up perfectly in his review – “The improv may seem funny on the set, but on film it just meanders until someone finally decides to shut the camera off.”  Making it worse is that, throughout the film, the script calls for them to explain many of the jokes, even though every joke is mind-numbingly obvious (hell, most of the jokes are slapstick, sight gags).  Imagine going to a Gallagher show where he does nothing but smash watermelons for sixty-five minutes, then explains to you why it’s funny.  No it’s not, Gallagher.

While we’re on the subject of comedy, even in my growing hatred I laughed at a couple of lines in the movie, though all were complete throw-aways that had nothing to do with the plot or premise of the movie.  Chris Hemsworth, playing the impossibly stupid, but hunky secretary (he covers his eyes in “pain” due to loud sounds and removed the lenses from his glasses so he can scratch his eyes – neither of which was funny) delivers such gems as “an aquarium is just a submarine for fish” (I laughed because it completely random and delivered perfectly) and appears to be the only one having fun on the set.  Many reviewers accuse him of being terrible, but his character was terribly written and useless, so the fact he was having fun is a +1 in my book.  Wiig even yanked a laugh out of me the one time her dry wit was used properly – when being shown the firehouse (gratuitous cameo alert), the realtor says the rent is $21000 a month and Wiig immediately responds with “burn in hell.”  But overall, the comedy was just bad and it’s most likely because, as noted during interviews with the cast and director, Feig and the cast substitute well-written, smart, thought-out comedy with riffing and improv.  Kate McKinnon (playing ghostbuster Jillian Holtzman) is the worst offender of this, randomly and constantly doing weird things for no reason besides she can (at one point dancing with propane torches for the amusement of Gilbert), mugging for the camera and delivering her lines with a bizarre speech pattern that’s as off-putting as Samuel Jackson’s lisp in Kingsmen.  Holtzman is a walking photobomb rather than a fleshed out character and the movie suffers badly for it.

(If anyone was being over-hyped in this film it was McKinnon.  Not having watched Saturday Night Live in years, I had no idea who she was, nor Leslie Jones for that matter, so I had zero pre-conceived opinion of either of them.  Jones was fine at least.)

Anyway, getting back to the story, Gilbert confronts high school pal Abby Yates (McCarthy) about the book being available, that she doesn’t want to be associated with the paranormal, but ends up getting roped into investigating the ghost problem because the movie needs her to.  From Feig’s own mouth, this scene was a recreation of the original’s library scene to pay tribute and apparently by tribute he means puke on.  Literally.  This is the first example of dozens of scenes ripped off from the original movie (do not believe any reviewers that claim this movie isn’t a remake) none of which are even remotely clever.  Remember how Venkman tries to talk to the library ghost and keeps getting shushed, then the ghost freaks out at him because he won’t be quiet?  That’s good writing – actions that happen for a reason.  This time around, Gilbert introduces herself to the ghost and the ghost responds by puking on her (incidentally, this scene in the trailer is how I knew this movie was made for the lowest common denominator).  That’s called bad writing – actions that happen because you have to use up the fuel truck’s work of Gak you bought from Nickelodeon.  Like the bad comedy, things happen throughout the entire movie for no reason other than “eh, why the fuck not?”

I think the shrimp was bad. Bluuhh.

I think the shrimp was bad. Bluuhh.

Okay, so let me back up for a second here.  When we first meet Yates, she’s rude and bitchy to Gilbert and doesn’t give a shit about Gilbert’s life, including Gilbert getting fired after the ghost encounter, all because Gilbert had the audacity to pursue a different study.  How the hell are we supposed to sympathize with Yates?  What’s annoying is how easy it is to fix that – rather than make her an asshole right off the bat, make her at most nonchalant and at best excited at the chance to prove her work to Gilbert.  Is there a reason why Yates can’t be earnest besides McCarthy’s extremely limited range as an actor?  Anyway, the three of them decide to continue the research (Holtzman is Yates’ partner), but get booted from Yates’ college because the movie had gone more than thirty seconds without an homage (and including another horridly unfunny scene where the dean flips them the bird several different ways because improv!).  After the afore mentioned firehouse scene, the three end up renting the floor above a Chinese restaurant, hiring secretary Kevin (Hemsworth), and meeting Patty Tolan (Jones) who tells them about a subway ghost.  Patty insists on being part of the team and the gang agrees because fuck plot and character development.  They go investigate the subway tunnel ghost and we see them test out the proton packs for the first time. and stuff.

Er…science and stuff.

By this time, you should be wondering what the hell this movie is about and why do they want to be Ghostbusters?  Well, they don’t.  They just want to catch a ghost to prove ghosts exist.  While doing this, they discover that someone is purposely letting ghosts out, but not before the next rip-off, er…homage scene.  A dragon ghost is loose at a rock concert and the venue manager calls them to…tell them about it, I think?  You see, they’ve been posting fliers around asking people to call them with ghost sightings (after an excruciatingly unfunny gag where the flier uses the same phrase for if you suspect a terrorist).  Nothing about catching and removing ghosts, just let them know.  Again, this happens because *jazz hands – homage*, not because it makes any sense.  It’s also a terribly rendered and executed scene with no subtlety whatsoever.  In other words, the exact opposite of the “we came, we saw, we kicked its ass” hotel sequence from the original that it fails to mimic.  But this flaming sack of dog shit has to keep burning, so on we go.

After catching the ghost, the first human cameo shows up in Bill Murray as a naysaying talking head on Fox news (yes, it’s actually Fox news in the movie).  This might have been okay had it been restricted to just a quick blurb on TV, but Murray then shows up at their door demanding to see the ghost.  To make matters worse, Murray is playing the part with open disdain that is far more directed at this movie’s existence than within the character’s role.  On one hand, I’m proud of him for sabotaging the movie, but I’m also disappointed in him for caving in and doing it all.  And, yes, the ignorant audience was howling in laughter and applause during his screen time, not realizing that Murray was dying inside.

Speaking of cameos, every cameo causes what little momentum exists to grind to a halt so the studio can congratulate itself on bringing the old gang back together while fallating the superfans in the audience with the most embarrassing and gratuitous display of fan service ever included in a film.  I’m not just talking about actor cameos; I’m talking about Mr. Stay Puft, Slimer, Slimer’s wife (WTF?!), the fire house, jumpsuits, and catch phrases.  The point of a cameo, especially in this movie, is to acknowledge the original by subtly nodding to the original.  Annie Potts gets the only worthy cameo, playing an irritated hotel desk clerk – that is clever.  The rest?  Not so much.  Murray’s was abysmal, as already described, Stay Puft is a possessed Macy’s Day parade balloon that is front and center in an attack in the climax, the jumpsuits are provided by Patti’s uncle’s funeral home (huh?) who, unsurprisingly, is Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver shows up in an end credits scene (redefining the term “shoehorning in”), but nothing is worse than Akyroyd appearing as a cab driver and, when Gilbert pleads with him to take them to Chinatown to fight ghosts, he says “I don’t drive this late night, I don’t go to Chinatown, and I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.”  Do you hear that sound?  That was your childhood getting kicked in the taint.

Here’s where the movie starts to get really bad.  Homeland security agents show up at their door and take them to see the mayor (Andy Garcia, who should be ashamed of himself) because, and I’m quoting here, “we’ve been monitoring this situation for quite some time.”  You have?  You’ve been monitoring three ghost hunters based on their three YouTube posts (boy do I wish I was making that up)?  Are you seriously suggesting that in a movie where “report terrorism” fliers are specifically called out that Homeland Security would give any kind of shit about ghosts?  Are my eyes bleeding right now?

At this point, the movie goes from awful to GGGGEECHHHHHH!  The team discovers the location of the villain’s hideout by, and I’m still not making this up, Gilbert marking locations of ghost sightings on a map (the epiphany comes when Patti calls out the intersection of 6th and 26th, among several others, but that intersection literally means nothing to any of us), drawing a big X (you know, as opposed to a star, or square, or cross), then blabbering about lay lines, something that wasn’t even hinted at until that very moment.  Look, I know I sometimes have lofty standards, but holy shit!  Did it not occur to anyone to just have them discuss lay lines in the lab at any point earlier in the movie?  McCarthy does nothing for almost the entire movie except test a proton pack and trip over the pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo she was forced to recite (even my friend acknowledged that she was noticeably struggling to deliver some of those lines); they couldn’t give her one little research project in which to yammer about lay lines?  I’d call this movie lazy, but that would be an insult to slackers everywhere.  Incidentally, this is where I was ready to walk out of the theater.  Instead, I chose to sit through the remainder of a movie that was trying to prove that there’s no limit to “reached a new low.”

Speaking of yammering, let’s finish this thing.  Here is how the rest of the movie plays out.  They confront the villain, Rowan (Neil Casey), and we’re told that his motivation for wanting to murder the entire human race with ghosts is that he was bullied (just kill me).  The ghost of Rowan possesses Yates, then Kevin, because the original movie also had two possessions (please kill me?) and Feig wasn’t going to not include an Exorcist head-spin reference (of all the bad acting in this movie, McCarthy’s possession was pathetic).  They go to the hotel that is the epicenter of the lay lines (is there anyone out there who still thinks this isn’t a remake?) where ghost Rowan has frozen a company of soldiers and cops into a Saturday Night Fever disco dance pose (kill me, please?).  Rowan transforms into an animated Ghostbusters logo (I couldn’t believe it either), then grows into a giant, dirty, sock-version of the logo-ghost and starts punching buildings.  The ghostbusters fight an army of ghosts pouring out of a blue whirlpool, trick Slimer into driving Ecto-1 (their car and, yes, that Slimer) into the pool because the car has a nuclear reactor on it (the Deus Ex Machina, which is latin for Paul Feig and co-writer Katie Dippold should die of gonorrhea and rot in hell for writing this), the pool changes from a ghost spewer to a ghost sucker, and I fantasized about punching every person in the audience who was still sucking on this shit popsicle and roaring in ecstasy.  Oh, and they defeat Rowan by shooting him in the dick, even acknowledging that they shot him there.  Seriously, a movie in which a months-long narrative of accusing people of sexism if they dared to dislike the movie solves its main conflict in the most sexist way possible.

Aim low ladies.

Aim low ladies.

(Side note: now that the sexism thing is out in the open, I have a couple questions based on swapping the genders of all the major characters, but changing nothing else.  One – how up in arms would the feminists be with the secretary being incredibly stupid and incredibly hot, as well as defeating the villain by shooting her in the boobs?  Two – how many critics would be giving it the negative reviews it deserves – just on technical merits alone – because they wouldn’t be afraid of being labelled as sexist?)

On top of all of that, there are other bad technical issues with the movie.  First and foremost are the cartoonish special effects.  Between the completely benign and unscary ghosts, the blue, green, and pink color palate, and the copious amounts of neon green slime, there is no way to defend this movie as keeping to the spirit of the original – at least in the original you believe the ghosts could be real.  Second is the lack of anything scary and any reviewer claiming this movie has anything even remotely scary is stunningly full of shit.  The original had the dogs, the bursting eggs, the tense hotel and library scenes, and the hands bursting through Dana Barrett’s chair and dragging her to the dog in the kitchen.  The new one has possessed balloons and a dance sequence.  When you throw in the bad dialogue, non-existent character development, crappy music that does not fit the movie, an uninspired and lackluster plot, ill-conceived and lazy (and sometimes embarrassing) cameos, and comedy that doesn’t play off the movie’s plot or premise beyond sliming, you get a shitty movie.

Does this look scary to you?

Does this look scary to you?

The worst thing about this movie is that it would be really easy to make a good Ghostbusters movie, regardless of the gender of the leads.  Off the top of my head, make it a sequel (as was claimed by the long-standing rumors in which the old garde mentors a new team), make parts of it scary, write it for adults also, cast better actors (basically, anybody not associated with SNL), and ditch all of the dumb cameos and scene retreads.  To top it all off, the movie even acknowledges that it’s terrible – at the end of the film, the four women are looking out over the city and one of them says “see, that wasn’t so terrible.”  Yes, it fucking was.

So, what do you think?  Did I overreact?  Did I provide enough evidence of how bad this movie was?  I feel like I did because I‘ve spent more than three thousand words describing in detail everything that was wrong with this putrid excuse for a movie.  And, for those of you who don’t think it’s fair to compare this movie with the original, of course it’s fair.  They shouldn’t have called it Ghostbusters if they didn’t want the comparison.  That, combined with everything else, makes this a perfect shit storm of cinema.

Rating:  Just, no.  This movie isn’t even the kind of bad that’s fun to go see as a joke.  Also, fuck this movie – I told you I wasn’t going to hold back.


By: Kevin Jordan (Number9)


Tammy_posterIs this really what the Fourth of July has come down to?

Remember when the Fourth of July weekend featured the opening of the biggest movie of the entire summer?  From the moment school let out and the summer officially started, everyone looked forward to that date on the calendar because it meant the film with the biggest budget, most dazzling visual effects, most entertaining popcorn flick (usually featuring Will Smith) would be satisfying our senses at the height of the summer.  From 1996-2008, here are the movies that dominated that holiday weekend:

Independence Day
Men in Black
Wild Wild West
The Patriot
Scary Movie 2
Men in Black II
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
Spider-Man 2
War of the Worlds
Superman Returns

With the exception of Scary Movie 2, every one of the those movies screams blockbuster (!!!).  Then, something inexplicable happened in 2009, and the big releases were Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and Public Enemies.  A cartoon and a Johnny Depp movie that didn’t feature pirates?  Was Hollywood changing their thinking, hoping that the holiday weekend would provide a boost to two movies they weren’t very confident in?  Were they hoping to squeeze extra money out of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen by opening it the week prior?  Were they blackmailed into opening lesser movies by people who wanted to be, you know, outside during the summer time?

2010 got even weirder when the two major releases were Twilight: Eclipse and The Last Airbender.  Why would they release a movie aimed specifically at teenage girls on a day known for blowing things up?  More importantly, why was M. Night Shyamalan being trusted with the most important weekend of the summer after previously releasing the atrocious Lady in the Water and nearly-as-bad The Village?  Did we (the audience) do something to upset Hollywood that they would ruin National Explosion Weekend?

They seemed to realize their mistake and attempted to fix it by releasing Transformers: Dark of the Moon in 2011, The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012, and The Lone Ranger in 2013.  Unfortunately, the damage seemed to be done.  While Dark of the Moon was exactly what we were expecting, The Amazing Spider-Man was a disappointing and unnecessary retread, and The Lone Ranger was just short of a complete disaster.  At this point, Hollywood has completely confused themselves and, in 2014, we’ve somehow ended up with a trio of less-than interesting movies that scream anything but Today we celebrate our Independence Day!” :  Deliver Us From Evil – a random horror flick; Earth to Echo – a movie that hasn’t even been advertised; and Tammy – the next installment of insisting Melissa McCarthy is actually funny.  Transformers: Age of Extinction may have been a complete disaster in the story department, but at least things explode.  If only that had happened to McCarthy’s completely unsympathetic Tammy, the weekend might have been redeemed.

If you saw any of the trailers for Tammy, you probably voiced the same question I did – what is this movie actually about?  After seeing it, I can confidently tell you that it is about absolutely nothing.  Seriously, it has no plot.  It doesn’t even have a premise.  Typically when I say a movie has no plot, what I’m saying is that there was a plot but it was either poorly developed or made no sense.  In Tammy’s case, I’m being literal.  The movie has no plot.  The closest comparison it has is to a biography, but Tammy isn’t telling someone’s life story, just an event from a person’s life.  Tammy isn’t even an interesting person.  She’s just a fat, stupid slob who runs away from home after getting fired from her job at a fast-food restaurant.  That’s not me being mean; the character is purposely written that way.  She blames other people for her problems, misuses words throughout the film, she can barely read (mispronouncing “Twain” – as in Mark Twain – while reading a sign), and cheated on her husband (who, in all fairness, was cheating on her as well) with the ice cream man.  The best part is that she co-wrote the film with her real-life husband (Ben Falcone), who also directed the film.  I’d call it self-deprecating humor except the movie isn’t funny (in fact, Kathy Bates’ character, Lenore, asks Tammy’s grandmother if Tammy even has a sense of humor).

To be fair, much of the audience was laughing at the screen, so there are some people out there that think she’s funny.  And that’s okay – there are things I find funny that other people don’t.  My problem with the writing is that the things that are supposed to be funny have no impact because there isn’t a story to give them any context.  All good comedies (and even bad comedies) rely on the premise and plot to give the jokes a base to launch from and something for the audience to relate to.  Office Space is funny because anyone who has worked in an office understands the situation.  Horrible Bosses is funny because everyone has had a boss they’ve thought about murdering.  Super Troopers is funny because we can all imagine bored cops inventing silly games to keep from shooting themselves after pulling someone over for speeding for the umpteenth time.

The closest thing Tammy gets to as a plot is a road trip with her grandmother (Susan Sarandon) because her grandmother just wants to get out of the house.  They aren’t going anywhere in particular or for any reason, so when something written as comedy occurs it usually just comes off as uncomfortable.  Examples include:  her grandmother being an alcoholic – so drinking is supposed to be funny; her grandmother being a diabetic – so swollen feet are supposed to funny; and her grandmother being kind of slutty – so Tammy sleeping outside of the door of their motel room while her grandmother nails Gary Cole is supposed to funny.  The only times I found myself chuckling (and there were very few) were at a couple of Sarandon’s lines and a couple of Bates’ lines.  If you start to think about those things, you start to think that maybe this movie is actually a tragedy.

Compounding the terrible writing is the terrible casting.  While the movie is filled with very good actors, the roles they fill are not good fits.  Allison Janney plays Tammy’s mother and I’ve already told you that Sarandon plays Tammy’s grandmother.  The problem is that McCarthy is 43 years old, Janney is 54, and Sarandon is 66.  I know that casting often asks us to believe in bizarre age differences, but this one was too much to take because we have eyes and this isn’t radio.  McCarthy and Janney look the same age (plus, McCarthy looks like a very old 43) and Sarandon doesn’t look even close to old enough to pass for her grandmother (not to mention the makeup and styling crew barely even tried to make her look older, giving her some grey curls and calling it a day).  Janney also has so little screen time that it would have made far more sense to just cut her out completely and make Sarandon Tammy’s mother.  I also thought Bates and Sarandon’s roles should have been switched.  Bates’ Lenore is a successful, hippie lesbian – a role that seems right up Sarandon’s ally, though Bates gave the best performance in the film by far.  Bates would have made a much better mother/grandmother because has the same body shape as McCarthy, she could pull off mean, drunk, and crass without even trying, and has a better comedic delivery than Sarandon.  Toss in a pointless cameo by Dan Aykroyd as Tammy’s father (who is Sarandon’s age, no less) – and the severely unfunny Sandra Oh and Toni Collette in bit roles – and you can at least understand where I’m coming from.

As you might have guessed by now, I’m not a fan of McCarthy’s films (or her television shows, for that matter).  Bridesmaids was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen (my wife hated it more than I did), Identity Thief was a miserable and unwatchable, and The Heat was unable to crack a smile on my face even though I was borderline delirious on an international flight when I watched it.  I was hoping that if I saw Tammy in a crowded theater, I might be more inclined to laugh along with everyone else, but that didn’t work either.  Instead, I left the theater missing Will Smith and wondering who decided to replace explosions, special effects, and absurd car chases with a woman who is typecasting herself as disgusting, crass, dumbass with no comedic timing.  Ugh.  Happy Fourth of July.

Rating: Ask for all your money back, unless you find McCarthy funny, in which case you are on your own.