labe- The Heat (2013) plays comedy by the book - Oh So Geeky

The Heat (2013) plays comedy by the book

December 19, 2013
Photo Credit: The Heat/ 20th Century Fox
Bullock plays a career ambitious and friendless FBI agent who is inadvertently partnered to a foul-mouthed on-the-streets cop played by McCarthy. Together, they weasel their way around hunting down a dangerous crime lord. So, it's your average good cop / bad cop story, which isn't so innovating. But, yes it was funny - not hysterically funny, nor made me bust a gut from infectious laughter, but funny.

Have you ever gone to a sold-out matinee and laughed your bum off at every scene that seemed absolutely hysterical -only to watch the same movie months later at home, and barely feel embarrassed enough to chuckle? For most modern comedies, that is my routine. I'd go as far as to say that to my eyes and ears scripts are too often filled with word vomit; awkward comebacks rather than a foxy exchange of bursting one's ego. With dialogue, the drier the wit the funnier it's supposed to be; and most comedies are drier than an Arizona desert and there isn't one tumbleweed blowing in the wind. Meanwhile, the characters and the story strain over adults who want to be less than in the sleaziest and juvenile ways possible. All in all, it ends up being one dud of a comedy.

The film opens with Bullock showing everyone up at work on a huge drug and gun charge. She makes no bones about being four steps ahead of her peers; she plays by the book and just happens to be better than everyone else at capturing the bad guys with little to no doubt. It's all smooth sailing to her at the detriment that nobody at the bureau likes her.

On the other hand, McCarthy does whatever she can to nab the bad guys. Through public streets, she chases down pimps and married men engaging with prostitutes ferociously. She doesn't give people a chance to defend themselves physically or even verbally. She hunts everyone down and all but throws the book at them; not metaphorically the book - physically.

Being forced together trying to find a merciless, both characters try to persuade the other to operate on how they work. Bullock and McCarthy equally are physically funny and rebound some memorable snappy retorts. Within the context of the story, the pair do everything from wiggle their way across a crowded dance room, dropping a guy from an apartment balcony onto a car roof below, and getting so aggravated with each other they try to slap the other silly.

A stand-out scene to me is when Bullock and McCarthy are kidnapped by their villains. Tied up to individual chairs, Bullock is brutally stabbed in the knee. When they are temporarily left alone, McCarthy removes the knife from Bullocks' thigh, begins to cut away the rope wrapped around her own hands, and then has to stab Bullock back in the same wound area because their attackers are heard looming closer. It's a scene that provides great insight and comedy into how the characters behave; making decisions that they believe are best without ever consulting the only other person in their same situation. This scene like so much of the film's story moves along smoothly without feeling like they aren't pulling punchlines and then pausing for the laugh track. 

Did The Heat revolutionize the comedy genre in general? No. It definitely had its hiccups.

In particular, I didn't gravitate towards how McCarthy is falling into a stereotype of playing the "unconventional uninhibited" individual who does and says whatever she feels like and somehow lives a higher, more moral road than other characters i.e. Bridesmaids and Identity Theft. While, on the other hand, Bullock's "prude" character who has some integrity towards her job is left to be the "bland" one who doesn't have a socially acceptable "normal" life. Sometimes it felt like McCarthy was given full reign to prance around all she could while Bullock was left to catch up with her wild antics and verbal pratfalls.

Furthermore, the crime lord storyline is no grand unveiling but is constructed more as a backdrop to their temporary work partnership. The ending doesn't necessarily disappoint, but it doesn't lead me to think the movie needs to continue with a sequel - especially since Bullock refuses to sign on from fear of her past failed sequels.

Directed by Paul Feig, this movie was a major step in the right direction from his previous comedy Bridesmaids. And, I was delighted to see him return to his previous television routes like The Office. Watching this at home I felt that it was something I would also have liked seeing in theaters if I had the chance, and felt like the boisterous atmosphere would sway me to favor the movie.

Despite its problems, the anticipation I felt leading up to The Heat was very much worth it.  I liked that script - though not very challenging - was straight-forward and it brought together two major players in a female-lead comedy where men nor sex was the object of their characters' desires. The whole movie was comical, humorous, entertaining - funny.


Rating: ★★☆
Have you seen The Heat? What are your thoughts?

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