“Tammy” Disappoints to the Point of Depression

I first learned that a comedy was not necessarily funny many years ago when I read William Saroyan’s novel, “The Human Comedy.” While a comedy often depicts an irreverent look at humanity which may be perceived as humorous, this is not always the case. And some things which you expect to be humorous simply aren’t. And that was my impression of the movie “Tammy” which is currently out for purchase via various cable and satellite TV providers.

To start out on a positive note I will say that the acting was excellent. Melissa McCarthy was more than convincing as Tammy; Susan Sarandon did an excellent job as Grandma and of course, Kathy Bates did her usual outstanding job as Leanor. If anything, the story was too real and too convincing as a slice of life in today’s world. Someday it may be categorized as a docu-drama depicting the culture of 2014 (or lack thereof), somewhat like “Blast from the Past” captures the 1950s. For this and its convincing content I would give it one star.

The basic story is of a young, obese young woman whose name, of course, is Tammy (McCarthy), who has had a very bad day. First, she wrecks her car, proceeds to lose her job and then, the coup de gras, she gets home early to find her husband enjoying an intimate dinner with a female neighbor. Justifiably upset, she heads to her parents’ house, who seem relatively normal, but also happen to have an extra house guest, i.e., “Grandma,” (Sarandon) who has a wad of cash and a good car so before you can say “lickity split” Grandma and Tammy head out on a road trip.

And everything goes steadily downhill from there.

I am not amused by a character who is dirty, gross, crude and disgusting besides being overtly stupid and disrespectful of everything and everyone including the law. While Tammy does do some changing throughout the course of the movie, particularly while sitting in a jail cell, if anything this movie demonstrated exactly what is wrong with the world today. This is not to say that I look down on people who work in fast-food restaurants, are grossly overweight (I’ve packed on quite a few extra pounds myself over the years) or have finally had enough and have a meltdown. I know the world is not fair and that it’s difficult to make it financially or otherwise in today’s world. The “redneck” mentality has been highly glamorized the past few years and yes, I’ve laughed at Jeff Foxworthy and various others as much as anyone else, but even rednecks usually have more dignity than shown in this film. I suspect that even the folks on Duck Dynasty would be offended.

The best part of this pitiful story is when Leanor (Bates) tells Tammy like it is: There is no free lunch and if you want to have something you have to work for it, hard. Self-pity and not caring about your appearance, language, behavior or future lead nowhere but the dead-end road found somewhere in the vicinity where this movie started.

Maybe Leanor’s message will be absorbed by those who can relate to this pitiful character or maybe it won’t. You can always hope. Personally I found this flick downright depressing as a sad commentary on at least one of the reasons why the world is in the fix it is today.

A Roughneck and a Rocket Scientist Went to a Movie…

Back in 1998 when the movie “Armageddon” first came out I went to see it with a friend who was in the oil business. I was working at NASA at the time, so we’re talking about a roughneck and a rocket scientist going to a movie, which somehow sounds like the prologue to a bad joke. While it may have been a fairly decent Bruce Willis flick, at least at the time, my friend and I did so much eye-rolling at the inaccuracies in the movie’s script that we hardly saw what was going on. Later when we were home and still ranting about how technically incorrect it was, my teenage daughter just shook her head at us.

“Mom! It’s only a movie!” she said, not understanding what all the fuss was about.

To me as well as my friend the fuss was about doing something correctly. Since we were both in technological fields we knew that was important. Do something wrong in either of our career fields and someone could die. Furthermore, with all the money spent producing movies it was nothing short of lazy to not hire a science and/or engineering consultant to get it right. Around that same time the movie “Deep Impact” came out, a Steven Spielberg movie, and to his credit, the science in that movie was accurate but apparently Robert Duvall didn’t have the drawing power of good ol’ Bruce.

My point, however, remains the same. If you’re going to do something, do it right. Seriously. Or as Yoda so eloquently put it, “Try not, do. Or do not. There is no try.”

I have wanted to be a writer since I was in elementary school. And I wanted to do it right. I wanted to write science fiction and knew that would require not only research but the background necessary to understand the principles and apply them properly. So I went back to school and got a physics degree. I thought I would know a lot more than I did by the time I graduated but I still knew a whole lot more than when I started. So many people say they stupider after going to college than before because they then realize how much there is to know about our amazing world.

After graduation I went to work in the aerospace industry, ultimately winding up at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas where I worked for over 20 years. And even after that, what I know is relatively little compared to everything that is out there.

Science is loaded with theories that make fantastic plot material. The subject of physics and how it applies to the Universe is often so weird that it actually makes the story more interesting when you tell it like it is. Like they say, truth is stranger than fiction and that certainly applies to science as much as anything. Science fiction is all about taking science to its limits and showing the effects it could have on mankind. There is nothing more exciting than that.