I love Melissa McCarthy. I think she’s an incredibly talented and fearless performer, which is why it disappoints me that she can’t stop playing the same character over and over again. It’s especially disappointing that in this teaser trailer for her new movie Tammy, which comes out July 2, she’s even typecast herself. The movie’s about a woman who loses her job and finds out her husband has been cheating on her, so she takes a road-trip with her grandmother (Susan Sarandon). Melissa co-wrote the movie with her husband Ben Falcone, who directed it, but it seems even Melissa McCarthy can’t write a different role for Melissa McCarthy.
The trailer features a scene in which the title character robs a fast food restaurant. As usual, she’s unkempt and unfashionable, but she’s dancing away like she doesn’t even know how bad she looks. And she can’t jump over the counter because hahaha she’s fat, you guys! We’ve never noticed that before. Oh right, except in Bridesmaids and Identity Thief and in half her SNL characters. So much of Melissa’s humor in these roles is derived from her weight, because isn’t it so funny that an overweight woman would be so confident about herself? That’s just hilarious!
I don’t mean to imply that Melissa has never played a different character, because she most certainly has, and she was so good at it that I want her to do it more. Her character Sookie St. James on Gilmore Girls was lovable and funny in a much more understated way, and I don’t recall a single reference to her size in the series’ seven-season run. But she can also be more over-the-top without participating in a string of fat jokes, and I think The Heat is proof of that. Her character wasn’t glamorous, but her humor came from more than just her appearance. Her interactions with Sandra Bullock were gold, she had hilarious one-liners, and she gave the character an emotional complexity. I think her Oscar nomination should have come from that movie and not Bridesmaids.
What makes Tammy especially disheartening is that Melissa wrote it herself with the person who arguably knows her best — her husband. The message this trailer sends, while obviously only representing one minute and forty seconds of a much longer film, is that Melissa thinks of herself the same way the creators of something like Identity Thief think of her. She’s so much more talented than that, and I’d have hoped a character of her creation would have shown that instead of just recycling the stuff she’s already done.