Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Heat (2013)

Seen: At the Regal Fenway in Boston- a free preview screening!

Did you know that Sandra Bullock's main dream in life has always been to make a female buddy cop movie? Like, how adorable is that? And now in The Heat her dream has been fully realized, and I'm really happy for her. Bullock stars as Sarah Ashburn, a cold but perceptive FBI agent who is up for promotion if she can prove that she plays well with others. When a series of horrific drug-related killings are found in Boston, she is forced to team up with hardened local cop Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) to track down the murderous drug lord. Though severely at odds at first, the two women eventually learn to work together and form a bond of friendship, mostly through goofy misadventures, alcohol, and a few life-threatening situations. There's a lot of yelling. And jokes!

Ok I really wish the marketing for this movie hadn't come out with that shitty poster that photoshops Melissa McCarthy's face to make her look thinner, because not only is that a stupid and fat-shaming thing to do, it's also now the main thing people seem to know about this movie. And I'm here to tell you that The Heat is pretty great, and actually McCarthy's weight and looks are never even addressed, just a few digs at her clothing choices (part of a running joke where she makes fun of Bullock's fashion sense). If you wanted a funny, bawdy, ridiculous comedy with ladies dispensing justice, then you need look no further. The rapid-fire dialogue and over the top sight gags had the audience laughing uproariously for most of the running time, and I personally also responded to the cute friendship that developed between Ashburn and Mullins.

In a lot of ways this follows the typical buddy cop mold- it's got a vaguely interesting criminal mystery, an easy-to-spot double-cross, a predictable dynamic between its protagonists, and a couple of explosions. But honestly the mere fact that the lead characters are women makes it immediately novel to my eyes, since it cleverly dispenses with a lot of stereotypes one might find in a male-centric movie. There's a part where the ladies have to sex themselves up so they can get close to a bad guy, and while that sort of bullshit plot development happens all the time, the film manages to subvert it in hilarious ways through the characters' strong self-awareness and exaggerated portrayal of sexuality. On the other hand, the obvious displays of misogyny and discussions of "women on the force" are a little clunky and so extreme as to be funny and unreal, rarely touching upon the more nuanced issues of institutionalized patriarchy. Also there are some weird albino jokes and a totally unnecessary botched tracheotomy that now I can't unsee.

But in all honesty, I'm not going into The Heat for a thoughtful exploration of these problems, I mostly just wanted a female-centric action-comedy that didn't suck, and that's totally what I got! It's funny, it's silly, and it's got girls with guns. Throw in a grindhouse-throwback opening sequence, some kickin' lady hip hop on the soundtrack, Boston accents, and a slew of great supporting cast members (Hey, Kaitlin Olsen, Jane Curtin, and Marlon Wayans!), and you've got yourself some summer fun you can enjoy with your rowdiest lady-friends.

4/5

Pair This Movie With: The style of humor is definitely reminiscent of Bridesmaids (also directed by Paul Feig), and that'd be a fun lady-comedy pairing. Alternatively you could go with a classic buddy-cop action movie. My favorite is obviously Tango & Cash.

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