Tammy (15, 97 mins)
Tammy (15, 97 mins)
Director: Ben Falcone
Since making a big impression (and landing an Oscar nomination) with Bridesmaids, Melissa McCarthy has firmly established herself as a leading comic talent.
Here with Tammy she gets a screenplay credit for the first time, co-writing with her husband Ben Falcone, who also makes his feature directing debut.
Unfortunately they've come unstuck and aren't able to deliver anything like the necessary hit rate of laughs required for a mainstream summer comedy.
The title character of Tammy sees McCarthy play a chaotic and dishevelled woman whom we first meet as she hits a deer with her car.
It's just the first of many scenes that make vain grasps for laughs that come from her shtick of going off on a semi-improvised rant that quickly descends into ill-disciplined mugging, leaving vast expanses of empty air where laughter goes to die.
McCarthy is a very talented comic actor, but she's in danger of selling herself short if she continues in these kinds of roles.
Her loudmouth and slobby routine has been the go-to since the unfunny Identity Thief, although it served her well in The Heat last year, helped by the balance with Sandra Bullock.
Tammy ends up getting fired from her job at a burger joint as an indirect result of the deer incident, although by the looks of it that dismissal had been coming for a while.
She also discovers her husband is having an affair with a neighbour and so decides to leave town.
But with no car to make good her escape, she tries to borrow one from her mother (Alison Janney), who is well aware of her slippery nature.
As it turns out, Tammy's ailing grandmother, Pearl (Susan Sarandon, presumably supposed to be playing 80), also wants to get out of her mother's house and Tammy needs a car, and so the pair of them set off together on what should be the start of an uproarious road trip, but which doesn't seem to have any destination or purpose in mind.
It's just an aimless journey, taking in scrapes and shenanigans along the way, all of it flat and meandering, thanks to deeply unappealing characters and pratfalls that really don't work.
Along the way, Pearl tries to persuade Tammy to try to change her ways, to find some direction in her life, but this is abruptly abandoned in favour of Pearl getting into drunken mishaps.
It's only when Tammy meets Bobby (Mark Duplass) and his father, who takes a shine to Pearl, that she sees what a decent person is like. But even with that, character shifts seem sudden and unearned.
And though McCarthy and Sarandon do their best with their poorly conceived roles, they're barely able to raise a smile between them.
A ridiculously starry cast fills out the rest of the film, though many of them are in very small roles; quite why Toni Collette and Dan Aykroyd show up for one scene apiece is a mystery.
That would simply be a side note if the film were only funnier. But the sad truth is that Tammy is so low on viable jokes that you begin to wonder if it maybe isn't supposed to be a comedy at all.
See it if you liked: Identity Thief, The Heat, Bridesmaids
The Anomaly (15, 97 mins)
Director: Noel Clarke
Noel Clarke directs and stars in this modestly budgeted British science fiction thriller that kicks off with Clarke and a boy apparently kidnapped in the back of a van.
The setting is a reasonably well realised futuristic London, and as Clarke and the boy escape and go on the run, he discovers he has fighting skills he didn't know he had.
But this only lasts for a short time, as reality disappears around him and he constantly wakes up in various situations, not knowing who or where he is.
The last thing he remembers is being in rehab six months before, and as he morphs into a new persona for about ten minutes each time, Harkin (Ian Somerhalder) is there either as a colleague or an enemy.
Each iteration adds bits of a puzzle that never really engages, with the bigger picture something to do with biotech weapons and terrorists, smooshed together without elegance or care.
The Anomaly seems to be selling itself on its tatty sub-Matrix action that might just have passed muster ten years ago, but which now looks decidedly silly.
Performances that would be at home on the SyFy channel and low grade special effects highlight the value of bigger budgeted Hollywood equivalents, although that's not what's most important, which should be an interesting and engaging story.
This isn't delivered either, and while it's great that there's at least one British filmmaker out there committed to making genre movies, it would just be nice if they were a whole lot better.
See it if you liked: Source Code, Edge of Tomorrow, The Matrix
The 100 Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (15, 114 mins)
Director: Felix Herngren
The Swedish bestseller by Jonas Jonasson comes to the screen as this remarkably titled and wickedly comical adventure that sees Allan (Robert Gustafsson) escape from his retirement home on his 100th birthday and run away, stealing a suitcase from an unhinged villain in the process.
As he goes wandering, we get flashbacks and other semi-related episodes from his previous nine decades that take in the Spanish Civil War and the Manhattan project, as well as serendipitous encounters with all sorts of figures including Stalin.
Allan likes to blow things up and has done since he was little, and this skill (or more accurately obsession) plays a big part in the Forrest Gump-style adventures we see him having over the years.
Like Forrest, he has no great smarts; he likes a drink and he likes to blow things up and that's about it, and anything that happens beyond that is neither here nor there to Allan, who remains largely oblivious to whatever world-shaping event is going on around him.
Like many a Swedish caper, this is very matter of fact, and its irreverence and glibness when dealing with death is bracing, even as it manages to be simultaneously light and twinkly.
Throw a bit of Jo Nesbo in there with the funny gangster stuff and this is just buckets of dark fun.
See it if you liked: Headhunters, Jackpot, Forrest Gump