Melissa McCarthy, after years doing strong supporting work on TV and riding justified breakout performance in Bridesmaids, is on top of the world right now. Both of her 2013 star vehicles (Identity Thief and The Heat) were big hits, and the latter was actually good. Her first real passion project Tammy, which she wrote and her husband Ben Falcone co-wrote and directed, is due out next weekend. Then today we got the details of two more projects: Michelle Darnell and Spy, to be directed by Falcone and Paul Feig respectively. I respect McCarthy’s efforts to strike while the iron is hot and line up as many projects as possible, but, while Tammy is still an unknown quantity at this point, it looks pretty bad, to be brutally honest. Omnipresence is great if your product is good, but if the films go sour, at what point will audiences start to get sick of her?
Just listen to her description of Michelle Darnell in the Variety cover story that goes into further depth on her upcoming projects. The titular star of Darnell is a mean motivational speaker McCarthy created in her time at the Groundlings. “I just could never get her out of my head,” McCarthy says. “She’s got short, red spiky hair and wears a lot of turtlenecks, and from there, a script is born.” From there? A script is born from turtlenecks and spiky hair? I’d be less worried if Tammy didn’t have a similarly loose feel in its promotional materials—McCarthy is great at creating five-minute sketch characters as we’ve seen in her Saturday Night Live hosting gigs, but can one or two obnoxious notes sustain a whole movie?
Falcone is an unproven director, but we’ll know more when Tammy comes out next month. We should be more excited for Spy, which will mark Feig’s third collaboration with McCarthy, a pretty bulletproof partnership so far. Another action comedy with McCarthy playing a secret agent, this time Feig will give her Jason Statham to play off of.
McCarthy and Falcone are also writing another project that sounds like it could go either way, a comedy called Just Do It about a couple who try and repair their relationship with 100 days of sex.
Again, McCarthy is just doing what anyone with her track record over the last few years would do: seizing an opportunity. She’s poised to create a comedy mini-empire with Falcone before we’ve even seen one of their movies (he was, of course, very funny in his scenes with McCarthy in Bridesmaids, a movie Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo wrote but McCarthy did plenty of improv on top of). And so far things are going swimmingly. But if Tammy is a bomb, or even a moneymaker with terrible reviews like Identity Thief, enthusiasm for two McCarthy comedies per year might begin to dry up. Critic-proof comedic actors like Adam Sandler aren't so plentiful, and even he's waned significantly in recent years. Suddenly that July 2 Tammy release date seems extremely important for the comedy film world.