Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Heat (2013)

The Heat is another film I haven't really been looking forward to.  I've been seeing trailers for this since maybe as early as last December, and it was the same, terrible trailer over and over.  I could tell even from the trailer that it was going to be an extremely predictable film.

Fifteen to twenty minutes into The Heat, I wasn't too optimistic that I was going to enjoy it.  I felt like they made Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy's characters so unlikeable that I didn't see how the film was going to have any redeeming qualities.  However, it was about that point that McCarthy had what seemed to be an unscripted rant, and I couldn't help but laugh.

Sarah Ashburn (Bullock) is an agent for the FBI.  She's good at what she does, but maybe a little too good.  She lacks humility, is a know-it-all, and rubs her success in the noses of her fellow agents.  As you may guess, nobody likes her, and her boss (Demián Bichir) tells her as much.  Shannon Mullins (McCarthy) is a Boston cop that's a borderline psychopath.  Everyone is afraid of her, despite her not being not much taller than Danny Devito.  If you cross her, then she berates you until you're a shell of yourself.

Ashburn in sent to Boston to investigate a drug lord.  She's forced to pair with Mullins as she knows the area and there's overlap in their current investigations.  The clearly don't like each other, but we all know that won't last.  This is a standard buddy cop movie as far as that goes.  The Heat focuses so much on their relationship that there's really not much of a story, and you never really feel any threat from the bad guys, or even really care about their investigation.

Instead, The Heat is more concerned with making you laugh and throwing out as many jokes as they can at you.  This is a comedy though. so that's kind of the point.  Like many comedies, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.  I laughed more than a few times, and the crowd seemed to be enjoying themselves as well.  Most of the laughs are from Melissa McCarthy and the stream of profanity that comes from her.  Your enjoyment of The Heat is going to depend on if that kind of humor works for you.  I tend to like this kind of humor, but as much as I laughed, even I started to feel like it was a little too much as the film went on.

The Heat was written by Katie Dippold, who's a writer for Parks and Recreation, but this is her first feature. I've already mentioned a few issues with the story, but overall it is pretty predictable and cliched.  I don't mind that so much, as this type of movie is a pretty tried and true formula.  Predictability is fine if they do it well or the other elements of the film are strong.  I'm curious as to how much of Melissa McCarthy's performance was due to Dippold's script, or improv by McCarthy.

Overall, I thought Melissa McCarthy was really funny and really enjoyed her performance.  After the crap fest that was Identity Thief, I wasn't convinced she could carry a movie.  She did a great job though, and it felt like she was giving it her all.  My only complaint is that her performance was a little too 'one note' at times.  She seems to work well with director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) though, and he really let her go for it.

One of my complaints with Feig's direction is that he needed to cut this down.  Considering the lack of an original story, there's simply no reason for this to be almost two hours.  This should have been between 95 and 100 minutes at maximum.  It also would have helped with how repetitive it started to feel.

I thought Bullock's character was written a little inconsistently as well.  She seemed like too much of a goody two-shoes to be involved with law enforcement in the first place.  There are times where she's written as the smartest person in the room, yet is constantly outsmarted by McCarthy, or lacks common sense or basic social skills.  I didn't mind her performance overall though and her natural charm eventually shone through.  She got a few times to get some laughs herself.

A lot of the supporting performances were funny.  I was happy to see Bill Burr in this, but he's not given a lot of screen time.  Michael Rapaport is dependable as always.  Dan Bakkedahl had a couple of really funny moments as an albino DEA agent.  Tony Hale, Jane Curtin, Taran Killam, Micheal McDonald, Kaitlin Olson and Thomas F. Wilson (Biff from Back to the Future).  Ironically, Marlon Wayans has a small role where he plays it straight the whole time.  It's a strong overall cast where they all seem to have a good line or moment, but you wish they could have been in it more or given more opportunities to be funny.

The Heat is a predictable and cliched buddy cop movie, but it definitely has its moments.  Melissa McCarthy gives a funny performance, and Sandra Bullock plays a good "straight man" against her.  If you don't mind crass and vulgar humor, then this might be right up your alley.  This one's a good candidate for having a few beers before watching and catching it with a group of friends.

3 (out of 5) Death Stars - Matinee

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