The warning signs were all there: low percentages on Rotten Tomatoes, poor scores on IMDb, less than favorable reviews from my fellow bloggers…but I went anyway. And neither of these films was worth the ticket price (and I only paid four bucks for one of them). Prepare yourselves, my friends—these might be my saddest Duets reviews yet. Here we go…
Synopsis: “After losing her job and learning that her husband has been unfaithful, a woman hits the road with her profane, hard-drinking grandmother.” –www.imdb.com
The High Notes:
- Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon. As the title character, McCarthy is, as we all know, a natural comedian, but it’s nice to see Sarandon in a comedic role, too—especially as Tammy’s fiery grandmother, Pearl. I think the two work well together, and I actually found their more dramatic moments together to be some of the better parts of the film.
- McCarthy and Mark Duplass. Playing Tammy’s would-be love interest, Bobby, Duplass (whom I don’t think I’ve ever seen in anything else before) gives a nice, natural performance, and I think he and McCarthy have great chemistry. The relationship starts off rocky, but the longer they’re around one another, the more they like each other (and the more we like them, too).
- The all-star cast. I had not realized how familiar faces were in this. I addition to McCarthy and Sarandon, we’ve got Kathy Bates, Sandra Oh, Allison Janey, Dan Aykroyd, Gary Cole, and Toni Collette. Unfortunately, none of them get a ton of screen time, but it’s fun just to see them and have that moment of “Hey! I know you!”
The Low Notes:
- For a good portion of the film, Tammy and Pearl are huge a-holes. Seriously, for a while, I didn’t know if I was going to like them at all. And when they do finally change, it’s so sudden that it’s pretty unbelievable, which is something I can blame on the next point.
- The writing. It’s just…not great. And that is a damn shame since McCarthy and her husband, Ben Falcone, are the writers. The story is way too rushed at the beginning, the humor becomes repetitive, plot points become predictable…I could go on, but I’ll resist. For two people who seem to understand comedy so well, they sure do have a hard time writing it.
- Though she does a good job, McCarthy is playing the same character she plays in everything, and I’m getting tired of it. Because I know she’s better than that. I saw glimpses of a great dramatic actress in here, and, frankly, I think she needs to cool it on comedies for a while and give that route a try. Or at least play a different kind of comedic character. I really, really don’t want her to end up being the female version of Zach Galifianakis (no offense, bro).
The Staccato Version: Tammy could’ve been a fun, hilarious movie. Instead, it’s jumbled and bland, providing surprisingly few truly funny moments. Big names are wasted and McCarthy plays the same characters she has played since her breakout role in Bridesmaids. It’s not terrible, I suppose, but you can’t help shaking your head at what could have been.
My Grade: C-
Deliver Us from Evil
Synopsis: “NY police officer Ralph Sarchie investigates a series of crimes. He joins forces with an unconventional priest, schooled in the rituals of exorcism, to combat the possessions that are terrorizing their city.” –www.imdb.com
The High Notes:
- Joel McHale as Sarchie’s partner, Butler. I’m not gonna lie, I had serious doubts about McHale working in a horror film, but he does what he does best: he makes people laugh. He is the comic relief, and he is great at it. Frankly, I was anxious to see him again every time he was off screen. Also, can I just say how impressed I am at how badass he looks? I mean, just look at the guy with his muscles and his tats! When did that happen?!
- Édgar Ramírez as Hot Priest. I’m sorry, did I say Hot Priest? I meant Hot Priest. Wait, that’s still not right…Okay, okay—he plays unconventional priest Mendoza. He just so happens to be hot. And a bad boy. Who knew priests could be bad boys? Actually, he vaguely reminded me of Father Karras from The Exorcist (which I talk about a little here and Alex Raphael reviews here), which is not a bad name to be attached to.
- I will say this for director/writer Scott Derrickson: he knows how to set a scary atmosphere. He manages to cram all the unsettling spookiness of a sprawling haunted house into tiny New York apartments, and it works.
The Low Notes:
- Is it just me or is Eric Bana as Sarchie…not great? I guess I can’t blame it all on him; his character in general is not very likeable and not well developed, and his dialogue sometimes sucks. One of my biggest problems with him is the fact that he appears to have zero chemistry with Olivia Munn, who plays his wife, Jen. They have a pretty clichéd strained marriage—you know, the “cop married more to his job than his wife” type. But from their performances, I barely even believe they like each other, let alone believing the whole “married with a kid” bit.
- This film relies heavily on two things: gross-outs and jump scares. Unfortunately, neither of these grants DUFE nearly enough substance, which leaves it feeling fairly bland. Next to nothing stands out as unique or fresh. It has the potential to go somewhere interesting with a few of the threads, but it misses those opportunities at every turn.
- Sometimes I even laughed at this film when I clearly wasn’t supposed to. Never, ever a good sign for a horror.
The Staccato Version: Sadly, DUFE turned out to be exactly what I feared: a 100% meh horror. McHale’s comedic relief is great, and Ramírez is more memorable than a typical horror film priest (and not just because he’s excellent eye candy, though that doesn’t hurt), but this is just nothing special. We may be delivered from evil, but we are not yet delivered from this dry spell of good horrors. For better or worse, Oculus is still the one to beat this year.
My Grade: C