Review: "The Eyes of Tammy Faye"

Wednesday, September 15, 2021


Hey Mofos! 

I'm back with another movie review! I was super intrigued about this film about Tammy Faye Bakker especially knowing a little bit about her life with Jim Bakker. I had to check out the screening of In the Eyes of Tammy Faye.

If you aren't familiar with who the Bakkers are, let me give you the quick rundown:

Jim Bakker is a televangelist and he and Tammy (his then wife) hosted the television show “The PTL Club” and they developed Heritage USA, a now defunct Christian theme park in South Carolina. Bakker’s shady ass was convicted and imprisoned on multiple counts of fraud and ish in 1989. Tammy got some sense and divorced him and eventually remarried. One of the things she was often mocked for was all that darn makeup she would wear and her squeaky voice. She passed away from colon cancer in 2007, and Jim is still outchea frauding and thieving at 80 something years old.

Caught up? Cool. Let’s discuss the film.

The film is based on the 2000 documentary of the same name, and captures the magic of who Tammy Faye Messner (Bakker) was beyond the headlines. Director Michael Showalter and screenwriter Abe Sylvia did a great job of humanizing this larger than life woman that has intrigued many of us over the years.

I still have questions about how she thought it was cute to go preach the word with this man with puppets, but that’s none of my business. 

Jessica Chastain does an amazing job at playing Tammy Faye, from the heavy makeup to the Betty Boop voice, the performance is spot on.  The film made me understand that the heavier the makeup got, the more it was a way for Tammy to protect herself from everything in her life crumbling into tiny pieces, and hiding her unhappiness. I UNDERSTAND. Now, what I don't get is why the folks around her, hell even Jim, didn't say "girl.. now girl.. you know damn hell well that is too much makeup," but I guess when you doing devil work, those things fall to the wayside. AND SHE GOT THE LIP LINER AND EYEBROWS  TATTOOED ON?! 

But now, I wanna know if she had bad skin from all this or.. nevermind, lemme get back to what I was talking about. I thought it was so cool that the film was shot in and around Charlotte, after all this is the scene of where PTL took it's mighty tumble. I also loved how they used old footage of Ted Koppel's interview and added the actors to it. It gave it a little more of a realistic feel for me. The "secular press" threat is always looming over the PTL Ministry which ultimately helps bring light to the evil-doings that were going on. 

"The Eyes of Tammy Faye" - Jessica Chastain as "Tammy Faye Bakker" in the film. Photo courtesy: Searchlight Pictures

Now this has to be said, Tammy Faye and Jim are the most annoying people ever. The cheesy laughs, the squeaky voices, the just "oh golly gee wilkers" of it all tore my last good nerve up. Even when Jim is telling her that he had an affair (and side note-- I didn't know Jim got down like THAAAAAT..and when you watch, you'll know wtf I come back and let's discuss), but anyway, he says, "the devil is coming for me, Tammy." Tammy cannot be bothered as she is slathering more makeup on top of the caked on ish on her face by responding, "Can we talk about Satan later? You know, I'm trying to feel like myself, again."

I wasn't sure if this was in the words of Andrew Chad DeliverT Caldwell says, "making a 'mock' of them" or if this was really how they talked and acted. It's extreme and campy, but looking at past footage--I just.. well, again it humanizes them, but I hollered when Jim comes for her whiny voice. Who knew the cult.. errrr church folks???? could shade like this?! 

You can’t help but want to see Tammy Faye win, especially at her lowest point when her marriage is over and she can’t quite grab a hold of the spotlight again or even the lifestyle she was used to, but you also want to shake her and wonder WHYYYYYYYY are/were you with this triflin ass man? Speaking of Jim Bakker, Andrew Garfield portrays him as someone who doesn’t have the balls or umph to make his dreams come true until he meets Tammy. Chastain and Garfield are perfectly cast in this film. 

Andrew Garfield as "Jim Bakker" and Jessica Chastain as "Tammy Faye Bakker" in the film THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE. Photo courtesy: Searchlight Pictures.

But the one that stole the movie for me was Tammy's mother played by Cherry Sutton. That lady wasn't fooled for one second and knew Jim wasn't about ish, and I was here for her stoic ain't with the shits demeanor. 

My main question is for the many folks that donated their hard earn money to PTL every single time they went on the air with their sob stories, religious proclamations, and over the top antics. This film left many questions unanswered for me, like where did Tammy & Jim get the money to even start PTL? 

This film did give a closer look at Tammy Faye and her intentions. I do think she meant well and then it took a darn turn. I could relate on the levels of not feeling good enough, pretty enough, and hiding behind a mask of who you are to put on a front for the public. The film paints a sympathetic picture of a woman that was unhappy but had the "He mine, Imma stick beside him," mentality because he told her it was for God and she believed it. 

There’s Oscar buzz around this film, but y’all know I’m still partial to RESPECT so IDK about all that yet. Overall, this was a good film, and for someone that walked in not really knowing much about Tammy Faye, this gave a good overview of the woman that just wanted to do the Lord's work and love everyone. 

The Eyes of Tammy Faye opens in theaters on September 17. Let me know if you go check it out and what you think! 

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