It's fitting that family dysfunction is at the center of Tammy, since a different sort of familial discord was responsible for this dud being made in the first place. Melissa McCarthy stars in the picture, her husband Ben Falcone handled directorial duties, and the couple collaborated on the screenplay. If their marriage can survive this film, it can survive anything.

McCarthy was a potent comic presence in Bridesmaids (earning an Oscar nomination) and The Heat, but here she proves to be curiously ineffectual. She's the title character, a small-town nobody who loses her cheating husband, her minimum-wage job and her car all in one day. With her grandmother (Susan Sarandon) by her side, Tammy hits the road in search of a better life, yet that's difficult to do when life is stacked against you and when Granny turns out to be an alcoholic.

Tammy is being promoted as a comedy, yet that's only half the story, as the film begins with plenty of comic situations before burrowing deep down into dramatic developments. Unfortunately, neither approach really works. The mirthful bits simply aren't funny - the cast tries hard, but you can practically see the flop sweat pouring off brows. As for the heavy developments, they're obviously meant to add heft to the picture and endear us even further to these sad-sack characters. Instead, the opposite holds true: After even just a half-hour of their tiresome antics, we wish someone would just run them off the road already.

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