The Heat

Certificate: 15
Running time: 117 mins
Director: Paul Feig
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Marlon Wayans
Genre: Action, Comedy
Country: USA

This might seem a little left field for KiV but when you consider, not just the thematic narrative, but also the fact that The Heat is a “masculine genre flick” with an all female lead cast you’ll begin to see the method in reviewing Paul Feig’s 2013 action/comedy.  Cut from the cloth of The Doll Squad, The Switchblade Sisters and The Muthers, The Heat promises to address the mainstream Hollywood issue discussed in our guest post [here] and deliver the ladies something more than just a movie about marriage and babies and all that jibberish.

Uptight Federal Agent Ashburn (Bullock) is despatched from the D.C office to Boston in order to work a case alongside a local, foul mouthed, BPD cop who plays by her own rules (McCarthy) but as the pair shake the hornet’s nest they become embroiled in a case that threatens to fill many graves.

I’m a big fan of Feig, and most likely so are you.  As a director he’s been involved with Freaks and Geeks, Arrested Development, 30 Rock, Mad Men, Weeds, Parks & Recreation, Nurse Jackie, Bored to Death and Bridesmaids.  He not only has a great sense of comedic timing but knows how to allow for moments that demonstrate the best his on-screen talent has to offer.  The Heat is, for all intents and purposes, a female driven Lethal Weapon with humour and as such there are set-pieces, devices and genre expectations to be met.  Feig’s comedy pedigree is something that can never be questioned but amazingly he handles the action sequences with composure and direction that hit-and-miss action helmers like Renny Harlin could really do with taking note of.  There’s a fantastic 70s inspired stylistic that welcomes the audience into the movie during the opening sequence, unfortunately this is quickly discarded.  It’s a shame as not only did it link the film beautifully to its cinematic origins but gave The Heat a character that set it apart from the run of the mill actioneers like The Fast and the Furious and all of its hundreds of sequels.

Bullock is very good at playing uptight.  It’s pretty much her Miss Congeniality performance but with straighteners and more than a little pinched.  This, at least in my mind, is becoming an issue with Hollywood cinema (yes, yes, another issue).  We’re in danger of having a generation of performers that 1. all look exactly the same and 2. can’t actually form facial expressions.  These people are actors…they’re meant to be able to express.  Would you hire a plumber who can’t close his hands around a wrench?  Whether it’s good fortune or well planned the lack of facial expressions suit the character but Bullock, not to mention others *coughs Nicole Kidman*, will need to lay off the botox or end up playing deadpan for life ala Christa Miller (Scrubs).  Melissa McCarthy is very good, very funny and is given plenty of rope to play funnily with and makes the best of the screen time along with director Feig’s trust.  It does come across a little samey though.  Whether it’s the explicit sexuality she showcased in Bridesmaids or the fact that it’s yet another loud (or lawd) mouthed Boston-Irish performance is almost irrelevant, it’s funny but not as fresh as it was alongside the air marshall.

The rest of the cast perform well enough.  Marlon Wayans is attentive yet forgettable and Michael Rapaport is better suited to this rogue role than that presented in the terrible fourth season of Prison Break but it very much is a two woman show…with the exception of Jane Curtin (as McCarthy’s mum) who is, as always, absolutely fantastic!

The Heat is refreshing for its casting of two female leads but by and large it’s a by-the-book buddy movie that tires a little in the final third.  Still, it’s the closest the cinematic epicentre of the Western world has come to delivering the kind of movie that came out of the Philippines four decades ago, and is incredibly funny in parts.


Octapolis said...

Gilmore Girls! ;o)

John Baxter said...

Oh, completely agree...and Gilmore Girls is great but it's one of the "acceptable" lady genres whereas action isn't. Look at all the female characters in Tom Cruise action movies, all their dialogue is about "what Tom Cruise is doing now..."

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