I saw the movie Tammy last night, and I’m gonna tell you right off the bat that I didn’t much care for it. I love me some Melissa McCarthy, but just because you can do hilarious, nuanced acting in a movie doesn’t mean that your first attempt at writing a movie will go the same way.
But I don’t really want to talk about all that. I’m sure you can find a regular review of this movie anywhere on the internets from writers far more eloquent than I. I want to talk about two things: the age differences, and how insistent Melissa McCarthy is on her characters being fat first and anything else second.
First, the age differences. This won’t take but a minute, but it was so goddamn frustrating that I just need someone to hear me out. THIS FAMILY IS MADE UP OF IMPOSSIBLY YOUNG BREEDERS. Melissa McCarthy plays the daughter, and she’s forty-three in real life. Her mother is played by the supremely wonderful Allison Janney, who is fifty-four. So that’s an eleven-year old mother, in case anyone was keeping track.
But it gets worse, because Allison Janney’s mother is played by Susan Sarandon, who in real life is sixty-seven and lit’rally glowing from within throughout this entire film. So between Melissa and her grandmother we have but a twenty-four year age gap, which I can tell you right now, is pretty goddamn distracting for ninety-six minutes.
But anyway, that issue barely compares with my larger problem with the movie, which is how important Melissa McCarthy makes her character’s weight. Melissa got to write this film herself, with her real-life husband Ben Falcone, and the two of them wrote into the script that Melissa’s own grandmother calls her a fat loser and a ‘cheeseburger’. With all the available character traits, storylines, and emotions available, Melissa chose to make ‘being fat’ her own (and pretty much only!) defining quality.
And she’s welcome to do that if she wants to, obviously, because it’s her movie. I just don’t know how much it’s doing to prevent people speaking about her weight like it’s a handicap, since in this case it seems to have made her incapable of seeing the other facets of her own personality. Why couldn’t her character be a normal, developed character who also happens to be overweight? If she was writing the part for herself, why couldn’t she do so on the basis of her comedic talents instead of her shape and size? Doesn’t Hollywood do that enough? It just feels like a missed opportunity to break down misconceptions instead of…building them up even higher.
You can be fat and also be interesting, talented, hilarious, complicated, kind, inspirational, strong, beautiful, valuable, and on and on and on. Melissa herself is living proof of that — so why isn’t her character?
(Photo: Michael Tackett – © 2013 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc)