Tammy’s Always Dying Parent Guide
Digital on Demand: This is an unrelentingly depressing movie with twisted messages about suicide. Not even stellar acting is enough to save it.
Parent Movie Review
Catherine MacDonald (Anastasia Phillips) is transfixed as a guest on a daytime talk show says, “First, you have to identify what is toxic in your relationship. Second, you have to find the courage to leave.” For Cathy, identifying her dysfunctional relationship with her mother is easy. It’s leaving that’s difficult.
In the parent lottery, Cathy lost. Her mother, Tammy (Felicity Huffman), is on a downward spiral of alcoholism and depression. When her welfare money runs out each month, she climbs a nearby bridge and threatens to jump. Every month, Cathy talks her down and buys her breakfast at the local diner. Despite Cathy’s constant forbearance, Tammy neither respects nor appreciates her. She berates her for a teen abortion, mocks her childhood ballet dancing and failed flute playing, and tells her that she is a “nothing person” who has no value except to look after her.
The tragedy of Cathy’s life is that she believes her mother. She desperately wants her life to mean something, but she puts up with her mother and allows herself to be used for transactional sex by a married ex-boyfriend. When Cathy finally finds the backbone to back away from her mother, Tammy encounters a genuine crisis, significant enough to pull Cathy back into her orbit.
Tammy’s Always Dying is an unrelentingly depressing movie. Tammy may well be a troubled soul scarred by who-knows-what mental illness or childhood trauma. But she is also a vicious mother – heartless, cruel, and selfish. Watching her repeatedly attack her gentle daughter is stomach-churning. It’s also dispiriting to see how trapped Cathy is, not just by her vicious mother, but by the poverty and lack of opportunity that keeps her tied to the crumbling part of Hamilton where she lives, outside of the glittering big city of Toronto where she longs to go.
If the story isn’t depressing enough, the content is seriously problematic. Ninety sexual expletives in an 85 minute movie means that profanity is non-stop. And although the sexual content doesn’t involve nudity, it’s still obvious (and adulterous). Furthermore, all of the major characters consume alcohol – Tammy to excess - and everyone smokes throughout the film. The biggest problem, though, is the script’s attitude towards suicide. It’s treated as comic fodder or as a noble self-sacrifice and is never properly addressed as a mental health crisis that needs treatment. Not even superb performances by both Anastasia Phillips and Felicity Huffman are enough to overshadow these seriously dangerous and misleading messages. Tammy might be dying, but don’t let this movie kill off 85 minutes of your life that could be spent in far less bleak pursuits.Directed by Amy Jo Johnson. Starring Felicity Huffman, Anastasia Phillips, and Clark Johnson. Running time: 85 minutes. Theatrical release May 1, 2020. Updated May 8, 2020
Watch the trailer for Tammy’s Always Dying
Tammy’s Always Dying
Rating & Content Info
Why is Tammy’s Always Dying rated Not Rated? Tammy’s Always Dying is rated Not Rated by the MPAA
Violence: A main character repeatedly stands on the edge of a bridge and threatens to kill herself. A main character is frequently verbally abusive. A main character falls off a bridge and lands in a net. Later, an angry character takes a saw and cuts off the net. A woman smacks her head through a wall on more than one occasion. There are medically related scenes of illness, including bloody tissues and a person vomiting. A main character tells another one that “she should just die.” There are repeated discussions of suicide. Spoiler warning: A character is shown preparing to jump off a bridge: it is implied that she follows through.
Sexual Content: There is mention about a girl getting pregnant in high school and having an abortion. There are two scenes of adulterous sexual activity: there is no nudity but the activity is obvious. In one instance, this is an act we can’t describe on a family website. A woman is shown naked in the bathtub: her breasts are clearly visible. A woman is shown in her bra.
Profanity: Our swear count is 126, with 90 sexual expletives, 21 terms of deity, 14 scatological curses, and one mild curse word.
Alcohol / Drug Use: There is constant smoking in the movie by the main characters. One main character is an alcoholic who repeatedly drinks hard liquor, which is also consumed by other main characters from time to time.
Page last updated May 8, 2020
Tammy’s Always Dying Parents' Guide
Suicide is a serious mental health crisis. If you or someone you know are considering suicide, please reach out for support.
USA: Suicide.org. List of Suicide Hotlines by State
Canada: Crisis Services Canada: Suicide Prevention and Support
Canada: Kids Help Phone: Crisis Text Line
United Kingdom: Supportline.org. Problems: Suicide
Related home video titles:
A young woman takes on a tutoring job to help herself cope with the suicide of her brother in Considering Love and Other Magic.
The issue of suicide is addressed in Breathe,the true story of a man paralyzed by polio who wants to die and goes on to become an advocate for the disabled.
A northern community is devastated by an epidemic of suicide amongst its teenagers. A new teacher starts up a lacrosse team to help the kids in The Grizzlies.