By David Mumpower
July 2, 2014
The July 4th holiday is upon on us, and that means a holiday opportunity for Hollywood distributors to release their finest products. Instead, they…chose to go another way. There are four wide releases launching today; I think Vegas would lay three to one odds on whether you have heard of half of them. It’s 50/50 whether you have heard of a third one unless you are a horror buff.
The final selection is a movie that feels like Melissa McCarthy’s Semi-Pro even though most insiders believe it will do well. Presumably, this critically derided comedy will perform the best of the new releases, a depressing thought. In short, the next five days will continue to be about Transformers: Age of Extinction, an even more depressing thought.
Yes, Melissa McCarthy is a thing now, a notion that warms the soul of this particular Gilmore Girls fan. Alas, she has built her movie career on broad humor rather than subtlety. This decision has led to a lead actor trajectory somewhere between Chris Farley and Kevin James with maybe a touch of Jack Black thrown in for good measure. As Jonah Hill has successfully transitioned to a broader range of roles, McCarthy’s movies have careened toward some cinematic black hole of obesity jokes.
McCarthy started with a scene stealing performance in the blockbuster hit, Bridesmaids. $170 million in domestic box office later, she was clearly on her path to stardom. Alas, there have been missteps on the way. She appeared in the modestly successful This Is 40 only long enough to discuss the location of her nipples. Then, she caused Jason Bateman to compare her running style of that of Kenyan marathon runners. Next, she somehow mated with a wolfpack of one in The Hangover 3. Finally, she got Sandra Bullock in a ton of trouble in The Heat. All of these films were solid to spectacular moneymakers. Because of this, McCarthy’s status appears to be at an all-time high.
But have you seen the trailers for Tammy?
When Chris Farley first attained popularity in Hollywood feature films, his primary selling point was a willingness to embarrass himself at all available turns. He would do anything, literally anything, for a laugh. There is a selflessness to that behavior, but there is also an underlying issue with self-esteem. Melissa McCarthy can act. She is demonstrably better than what she is being given in Tammy.
We are talking about a movie that is currently 22% fresh among top critics at Rotten Tomatoes…and that is the HIGHER number of their two scores. Movie goers have demonstrated a willingness to watch these sorts of awful movies, as we witnessed last weekend with Transformers: Age of Extinction. I consider Tammy relatively bulletproof yet I mentioned Semi-Pro in the introduction for a specific reason. Everything was going great for Will Ferrell right up until he starred in a movie whose ads were so bad that they made religious people question the existence of a benevolent deity. The same is true of Adam Sandler with Little Nicky. Customers only provide so much benefit of the doubt before they shun a project.