Rated R for profanity and sexual references
McCarthy & Sarandon Crisscross The Country In Raunchy Road Comedy
Melissa McCarthy was apparently able to write her own ticket after winning an Emmy for her TV sitcom Mike & Molly in 2011 and landing an Oscar nomination for Bridesmaids in 2012. So, she used that leverage to greenlight a star vehicle where she would not only portray the title character, Tammy, but get to make her screenplay debut as well.
Keeping it all in the family, Melissa had the studio hire her husband, Ben Falcone, to direct and co-write the film, which might not have been a problem if it weren’t his first time attempting either of those tasks. The upshot is that their ill-advised collaboration has produced a raunchy road comedy with precious few laughs.
And in the process, the picture squandered the services of an impressive ensemble that included Academy Award winners Susan Sarandon (for Dead Man Walking) and Kathy Bates (for Misery), Oscar nominees Toni Collette (for The Sixth Sense) and Dan Aykroyd (for Driving Miss Daisy), and veteran thespians Allison Janney, Sandra Oh and Gary Cole. Unfortunately, the talented cast was abandoned by a cringe-inducing script that proved more crass than funny.
As the film unfolds, we find Tammy having one of those days. First, she totals her Toyota Corolla on her way to a thankless job at a fast-food restaurant when a deer darts in front of the auto. Then, she’s fired by her exasperated boss (Falcone) for arriving late for the umpteenth time. On her way out the door, she launches into an expletive-laced tirade during which she trashes the premises in front of the mortified staff and customers.
Upon arriving home earlier than usual, things go from bad to worse when Tammy catches her hubby (Nat Faxon) in the midst of making whoopee with their next door neighbor (Toni Collette). Shocked and brokenhearted, she decides to take a break from her mess of a life, only to realize she can’t even afford to leave town without any cash or a car.
Her grandmother,Pearl(Sarandon), agrees to subsidize Tammy’s vacation as long as she can tag along for the ride, since her confining retirement community feels like a prison for old people. The two soon set out for Niagara Falls from their native Illinois, raising a ruckus at every port-of-call along the way, whether jet skiing, over-imbibing, trading insults (“Fat loser!” met with ”At least I didn’t sleep with my daughter’s husband!”), picking up strangers at bars and diners (“Anybody want to screw my grandma? Just buy her a drink!”), triggering pyrotechnic displays, landing in jail, or crashing an all-lesbian barbecue on the Fourth of July.
If only some of their sophomoric antics were witty or amusing. A terminally-depraved escapade destined to disappoint even diehard Melissa McCarthy fans.
Fair (1 star)
Running time: 96 minutes
Rated R for crude humor, graphic sexuality, underage drug use, ethnic slurs and pervasive profanity
Nick Cannon Makes Directorial Debut With Help Of Star-Studded Cast
Nick Cannon is a versatile entertainer known as an actor, comedian, rapper, radio DJ, TV host and as the husband of pop diva Mariah Carey. With School Dance, Nick steps behind the camera to add filmmaker to his extensive resume.
His jaw-dropping directorial debut is a raunchy romantic comedy that might be best thought of as Romeo And Juliet gone completely gangsta’. Set at an inner-city high school inLos Angeles, the irreverent romp revolves around diminutive Jason Jackson (Bobb’e J. Thompson), a modestly-endowed virgin with a crush on a cute and curvy classmate.
Trouble is Anastacia (Kristina DeBarge) has never even noticed the nondescript nerd. A bigger complication is that he’s black, she’s Chicano, and their respective ethnic groups don’t mix, let alone get along. Nevertheless, Jason accepts a dare from the dudes in his posse to get into her proverbial panties by the end of the semester.
To that end, he hatches an elaborate plan to impress the girl of his dreams by winning their high school’s annual talent show which features a grand prize of $2,000. But of as much import as the outcome of that contest is the raucous road the flick en route to that fait accompli.
Director Cannon apparently had no trouble casting his first picture, since the screen is filled with top comedians at every turn, from the man of the year Kevin Hart to the resurrected Katt Williams to Yo’ Momma’s Wilmer Valderrama to the irrepressible Luenell to the incomparable Mike Epps to George Lopez and Patrick Warburton. All of the above found the elbow room to do their thing, although the production might have benefited from editing out some of their most offensive remarks.
For example, the blasphemous rap, “F*ck the President, Barack f*cking Obama. F*ck that n*gger,” was a bit much for this critic to stomach, even if the euphoria of historic Election Night 2008 is just a distant memory. Equally off-putting was this line uttered by Lopez as Anastacia’s overprotective father: “I don’t want some little black baby with a big penis running around this house touching all my shit.”
Still, I suspect that such shocking fare will find a ready audience in a hip-hop generation weaned on a profusion of profanity and fond of the N-word. A 21st century update of the beloved Shakespeare classic about a pair of star-crossed lovers from the opposite side of the tracks.
Good (2 stars)
Running time: 85 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening July 11, 2014
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (PG-13 for intense violence and brief profanity) Eighth installment in the storied sci-fi franchise finds burgeoning nation of genetically-altered primates threatened by a band of humans who survived the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. Ensemble cast includes Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke and Judy Greer.
Affluenza (Unrated) Class conscious drama, set in 2008, about a social-climbing, pot-smoking shutterbug (Ben Rosenfield) who abandons his humdrum life to hang out in the Hamptons with his gorgeous cousin (Nicola Peltz) and her clique of privileged friends. With Steve Guttenberg, Greg Sulkin, Grant Gustin and Samantha Mathis.
As It Is In Heaven (Unrated) Shaken faith drama about a cult leader’s (Chris Nelson) struggle to hold onto his flock following the failure of his recently deceased predecessor (John Lina) to predict the end of the world. Cast includes Luke Beavers, Sylvia Boykin andMeredithCave.
Boyhood (R for profanity, sexual references, and teen drug and alcohol abuse) Coming-of-age drama, shot in Austin, Texas, over the course of a dozen years, tracing the life of a toddler (Ellar Coltrane) well into his teens. Written and directed by Richard Linklater, and co-starring Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke and Lorelei Linklater. (In English and Spanish with subtitles)
Honour (Unrated) Fatwa thriller, set in London, revolving around a hit man (Paddy Considine) hired to track down the Muslim runaway (Aiysha Hart) who has incurred the wrath of her family by dating a Punjabi guy (Nikesh Patel). Featuring Faraz Ayub, Shubbham Saraf, Harvey Virdi and Ben Bishop.
Land Ho! (R for profanity, sexual references and drug use) Road trip comedy about a couple of geriatric buddies (Paul Eenhoorn and Earl Lynn Nelson) who venture toIceland to recapture their youth in a bawdy adventure of a lifetime. With Alice Olivia Clarke, Karrie Crouse and Elizabeth McKee.
A Long Way Down (R for profanity) Screen adaptation of the Nick Hornby best-seller of the same name about four suicidal strangers (Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Aaron Paul and Imogen Poots) who meet on a rooftop on New Year’s Eve where they decide to form a blended family instead of jumping. Supporting cast includes Sam Neill, Rosamund Pike and Zara White.
Made In America (Unrated) Ron Howard was afforded the cinematic equivalent of an all-access backstage pass to shoot this Budweiser concert flick headlined by Jay-Z and also featuring Kanye West, Jill Scott and Janelle Monae. (In English and Spanish with subtitles)
Rage (Unrated) Vigilante thriller about an ex-con (Nicolas Cage) who decides to take the law into his own hands with the help of a couple of buddies (Max Ryan and Michael McGrady) when his teenage daughter (Aubrey Peeples) is abducted by Russian mobsters. With Danny Glover, Rachel Nichols and Peter Stormare.
Road To Paloma (R for profanity, nudity, sexuality, violence, rape and drug use) Jason Momoa wrote, directed and stars in this chase thriller as a Native American fugitive from justice who finds himself on the run across the desert after avenging his mother’s murder. With Lisa Bonet, Tye Alexander and Henree Alyse.
Underwater Dreams (Unrated) Overcoming the odds documentary about a team of undocumented immigrants attending an Arizona high school who enter their submersible robot in a NASA-sponsored competition against college students from MIT and other leading colleges.