Monday, July 1, 2013

The Heat

Or, the tidal wave known as Melissa McCarthy 

     Promos for The Heat on TV actually made us want to see the movie.  The pairing of Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy seemed inspired.  It makes for a f*****’ funny feel-good female buddy cop movie.  It has everything anyone would expect who’s seen a movie in the past sixty years:  tight-ass twerp with f*****’ slob taking down a bunch of misogynist cops, FBI agents, and f*****’ low-life perps and drug dealers; loud ethnic stereotypes (South Boston) and exotic Others (an albino to mix things up, I guess); an initially hostile relationship that deepens eventually into sisterhood since they are almost f*****’ blown away a couple of times; and tons of violence including an amateur emergency
tracheotomy and the f*****’ Mr. Big Bad Guy practically getting his balls blown off.  That resulted in some really f******’ big belly laughs from the large, diverse audience at the matinée we attended.  Oh, and did I say that the language is as filthy-funny as it’s possible to get without every third word being f*****’?

Melissa McCarthy
     It will be a big hit because it plays really well as a feminist revenge comedy, an opposites attract as best pals, and it’s built around the most hilarious force of nature in current American culture, namely Melissa McCarthy.  Part of the reason that she compels attention is because it’s impossible to predict her reaction or how she’ll play a scene.  She’s tough and profane yet blindingly honest and then sweet.  She’s a good Catholic girl stuck in a family that went horribly wrong, but thinks it’s the normal one.  The first sequence where she collars a john, nails a dealer (but loses the john, though that’s skimmed over), humiliates her boss and everyone else at the station house because only she has the balls to properly handle dealers moves like lightning because of her physical prowess and the editing.  The opening (and closing) credits evoke ‘70s crime comedy dramas like The Super Cops or Freebie and the Bean or Uptown Saturday Night.  It gave me a lot of hope that this would have a unique drive even as it honored past entries in this sub-genre.  The Other Guys (2010) with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg was slyly subversive in reworking formula and saying more about the financial meltdown than serious banking dramas of that period, but it wasn’t a big enough hit for the studio.

Sandra Bullock
     Every time McCarthy was on screen, my hope remained, but Sandra Bullock (the star of the movie) has to exercise her extraordinary comic skills, both physical and in her verbal timing, to stay afloat in a one-note role that she somehow makes more sympathetic and complex than it is.  She’s the arrogant agent, continually undercut by her male colleagues’ old boy club insecurities and then by McCarthy’s character’s salt of the earth smarts.  There wasn’t one moment where Bullock’s character could display real intellectual competence, while her physical agility doesn’t get played for the charm it should.  Shawn Wayans, Demián Beshir, and SNL’s  Taran Killam do what they can with the male roles.  Jane Curtin shows up briefly as McCarthy’s mother, but she gets lost in the large, bickering family.

The Heat…McCarthy and Bullock
     None of this matters because it’s all about McCarthy and, to a lesser extent, Bullock.  If this makes the money I think it will and if the producers and studio don’t f*** around forever coming up with a script, then we’re looking at a sequel in two to four years.  If so, I recommend re-using the Beverly Hills Cop fish-out-of-water set up for the team to go to Washington and take down some legislators of all political persuasions.  That would be a lot of f*****’ fun!

Personally, I don't care for that much potty mouth.

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