Why Do We Know So Little About Melissa McCarthy’s ‘Tammy’?

Tammy, a film starring, co-written by, and very nearly directed by Oscar-nominated A-list comedian Melissa McCarthy, is coming out next week, on July 2nd. For a movie that will be in theaters really soon, its pre-marketing has remained mysterious. Why is that? Is it a comedy with no jokes? Is it secretly a work of genius that’s impossible to advertise? What’s your truth, Tammy?

February’s teaser trailer for the film was a short scene of McCarthy’s titular Tammy ineptly robbing a Topper Jack’s fast food restaurant, scored to the sounds of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise.” The humor comes from her being a wild-card slob in a Mahalo T-shirt with a bear on it, demanding more pie. But the full-length trailer didn’t provide many clues beyond that initial scene, except for the implications that, well, Tammy worked at that fast food joint: you learned that Tammy has a mother, Susan Sarandon, and they’re on the road, and America, or something. Plus a pretty bad Neil Armstrong/Lance Armstrong joke.

The thing that’s interesting about Tammy is that it’s coming out into the world so devoid of any hook beyond “Melissa McCarthy, comic genius.” It’s set for a release date that puts it right in the historically money-making weekend of the July 4th holiday. Perhaps it’s intended as counter-programming to Transformers 4: Marky Mark Hates Robots, due for release this week. Melissa McCarthy is making the rounds publicity-wise, on the cover of Rolling Stone and Variety (the latter bearing the horrific headline: “She’s Sleeping With Her Director”). We learn that in Tammy, she plays a “midwestern lady,” and that the film cost about $20 million dollars, which is nothing these days.

tammy poster

Don’t get me wrong — it’s kind of nice that there’s a movie out there in the world that’s a major summertime studio release that doesn’t feel the need to tell me every weird beat of the plot before I’ve even seen it. It’s also really nice to see the film sold completely on McCarthy’s comedic charms.

Yet on the other hand, it’s also tempting to think that the secrecy is because Tammy is a total bust of a film, considering the studio is showing us just one scene over and over again. Is it just that unfunny? I’m curious to see how this new “hide the film” marketing technique will do, and whether McCarthy’s box office dominance will continue. She’s carving out a career that’s absolutely unparalleled in Hollywood, and my guess is that she’ll continue to reign, whether Tammy is genius or garbage.