Melissa McCarthy's latest film Tammy hits theaters today, and so far critics are feeling pretty meh about the film the comedian wrote, produced, and starred in with her husband Ben Falcone onboard as co-writer and director. McCarthy has been on a steady rise to mainstream fame since her breakout role in 2011's Bridesmaids, so the critical reception to Tammy — which ranges from drab to mildly entertained — is a bit of a letdown considering all the hype around the idea of McCarthy writing and starring in her own movie. Most critics seem to agree on three things: McCarthy gives a solid but sometimes confusing performance, Susan Sarandon steals the show and radiates youth despite her alcoholic ugly old lady getup, and Falcone's directorial flaws lead to a stilted delivery onscreen.
Here are 14 quotes from some of the many mixed reviews Tammy has received so far, from kindest to harshest:
"McCarthy is very good at conveying self-hate, but a self-hate which can be alchemised, through comedy, into something gentler, more self-aware and more liable to be redeemed through love … Tammy may not be a comedy masterpiece, but McCarthy has comedy star quality.
- Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
"McCarthy embodies a Sandler-like combination of raw, inchoate anger and sticky sentimentality. With McCarthy, however, there's an underlying political undercurrent to that anger that renders it less incoherent than Sandler's, even though it's just as free-flowing."
- Nathan Rabin, The Dissolve
That the performance and the movie ultimately aspire to something richer — a compassionate look at midlife malaise and cross-generational female bonding — turns out to be more admirable in theory than enjoyable in the execution by the end of this middling misfire.
- Justin Chang, Variety
"In McCarthy, we have a performer we can trust to deliver laughs even when they barely exist on the page. The Mike & Molly star and Oscar nominee (for Bridesmaids) produced and co-wrote her latest with her husband, Ben Falcone, who also directed. The movie doesn't look like anything special. The number of reaction shots designed to cue audience adoration could choke a horse."
- Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
"Melissa McCarthy is the kind of singular talent who will have to chart her own course through Hollywood, and she's to be commended for steering her own ship. That said, she and Falcone might be wise to find someone trustworthy enough to take the helm and keep them away from leaky tugboats like Tammy."
- Alonso Duralde, The Wrap
"In other hands — say, John Cassavetes' or Charlie Kaufman's — this could be the beginning of a small, thoughtful drama about losing and finding yourself in failure. But because Tammy is cowritten and played by Melissa McCarthy, it's a broad, helter-skelter farce whose best bits hinge almost entirely on the considerable charms of its star."
- Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly
"The movie never touches ground. The implicit tragedy doesn't cut deep, and the blatant comedy offers only a handful of chuckles. Tammy is an object lesson in the art of directing, which is all it would have taken to turn this near-miss into an instant classic."
- Richard Brody, The New Yorker
"As she proved in Bridesmaids and The Heat, she can sling an insult as deftly as anyone in movies. But she's not much of an actress — not yet. She's a face-puller, a gross-out machine."
- David Edelstein, Vulture
"But Tammy, the first feature film directed by Ben Falcone, starring Melissa McCarthy and co-written by both of them is basically a drama-in-disguise. Unfortunately, it's a formulaic and extremely uneven one, albeit with a number of sympathetic performances."
- Jordan Hoffman, Film.com
"If Tammy's supposed to be this unstoppable force who gets whatever she wants, that's also a character I could see her playing. But the Tammy of the film is so thinly imagined that I can't tell you what defines her. I watched an entire movie about her, and until there was that conversation in the film's closing moments, I couldn't have made that connection."
- Drew McWeeny, HitFix
"How do you solve a problem like Melissa McCarthy? That question feels inescapable after watching her try to powerlift Tammy, her newest and least funny comedy, all by her lonesome."
- Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
"McCarthy goes back to the bilious well one more time in Tammy, a movie she co-wrote with her husband, Ben Falcone (who also directs), so she literally has only herself to blame. Her skin an angry shade of sunburned red, her hair a frizzled mass of bleached split ends, she blusters and bullies her way through a misbegotten movie that starts badly and ends worse."
- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post
"So the film progresses from merely unfunny to unconvincing to dull. It's a waste of a good cast as well as a serious trip wire for McCarthy, who may know what's best for her talents but, on the evidence, needs a deft-handed outsider to make sure she's maximizing them."
- Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
"Arriving in time for the July 4th weekend, Tammy has the effect of a shoddily manufactured firecracker that weakly goes off in your hands — leaving no permanent damage, just a bitter memory."
- Richard Corliss, Time