Monday, July 08, 2013

My review of THE HEAT

No SPOILER ALERT necessary, but warning:  despite the first few paragraphs this is a positive review.

Hollywood studio comedies are all predictable formula exercises that depend solely on the execution. THE HEAT is your standard buddy-cop trope with a jumbled plot that’s only there to serve the gags and the few obligatory moments of heart to show that these opposites really do love and respect each other. And of course there’s a scene of the two stars dancing. No studio comedy could be released without that. 

It’s R-rated because that’s what sells. The language is raunchy because that’s what sells. Melissa McCarthy is in the part Bette Midler used to play when she sold. And Sandra Bullock plays the part Sandra Bullock used to play.

One’s crazy and outrageous and the other is the button-down foil. LETHAL WEAPON before one of its stars proved to really BE crazy.

So if you know that going in, and don’t mind exploding f-bombs everywhere – if you don’t go in with expectations any higher than laughs from Sandra Bullock blowing a peanut shell out of her nose, you will have a rollicking good time with THE HEAT.

I did. (See?  I told it was positive.)

Why? Melissa McCarthy is a riot. This is the comic role she was born to play (and undoubtedly will play again in eight more films even though it will get tiresome by the fifth). She’s the queen of bad ass. Melissa hits every joke out of the park and when you see what she can do with decent material it’s really apparent that her talents are being wasted on MIKE & MOLLY.

Credit Katie Dippold with writing hilarious lines for her to say. The jokes come fast and furious and got many good laughs from the audience I saw the movie with – and that was at a DGA screening, so we’re not talking your typical high school target crowd.

And remember, there’s extra pressure on the script because… well, you’ve already seen this movie ten times.

Major kudos also go to Sandy Bullock. This was clearly Melissa’s movie, she had the much showier part, and Ms. Bullock does have an Academy Award, but she proved once again to be a great sport and more importantly, a deft comedienne. She has a nice light touch, knows her way around a joke, plays real, can take a pratfall, and has the knack for not taking herself too seriously while still playing a serious character. Other than her taste in husbands, Sandra Bullock has great instincts.

Between THE HEAT and BRIDESMAIDS, Paul Feig is proving himself to be an A-list studio comedy director. Please don’t blow it by thinking you’re the next Judd Apatow and do a four-hour comedy starring your family members.

So to sum up – low expectations, DEADWOOD-quantity of fucks, a thousand cliches, but if you like Melissa McCarthy unleashed and Sandra Bullock in a bra, THE HEAT is a fun romp.  But be forewarned -- if that's not your cup of tea you may just HATE this film. 

What did you moviegoers think?

33 comments:

404 said...

I haven't seen it yet, but your review was exactly what I wanted to hear, and makes me want to see it more.

I'm getting tired of movie producers trying to do too much with something--take "The Lone Ranger" as an example. I'm curious as to your opinion on this one. From what I understand, this is how it turned out (and I should say I haven't seen it, but...)

In the right hands, it could have been okay, but instead you get a 2 and 1/2 hour long mess that NO ONE wants to see. Why? Because the two main groups who would most likely be interested in seeing it are kids (my kids really wanted to see it) and people who grew up on it (my parents really wanted to see it). But instead, add a dash of cannibalism and rape, make the plot completely ridiculous and hard to follow, and now no one is interested. Since they already fired whoever was responsible for JOHN CARTER, who gets the axe for this one?

rockgolf said...

As I expected, it's "The Other Guys" in drag.

Scooter Schechtman said...

The first time I caught a glimpse of the movie commercial I thought it was Sookie Saint James and Lorelai Gilmore.

Mr. Hollywood said...

Glad you liked it Ken ... actually surprised you did. I was not a fan of BRIDESMAIDS and won't be seeing this. Both Bullock and McCarthy do nothing for me and it strikes me as so predictable, I'll pass.
I'm a DGA member and I know it's a tough crowd at screenings (not a sound after THE BLING RING screening). Glad they liked it. I just find very little of entertainment value in most films today ... certainly no wit or creativity apart from animated films like Pixar. Maybe I'm just an old fart now, but that's my opinion!

Dan Ball said...

After the disappointment that was STAR TREK and hearing the laments of people who saw MAN OF STEEL, I was pretty open to seeing something my wife wanted to see. It just seems like a bad summer to be a fanboy. "Watch your childhood destroyed before your very eyes!"

That being said, I was very pleased with THE HEAT. Like you, Ken, I was expecting a lesser LETHAL WEAPON and that's precisely what I got. But I thought it did slightly better than most buddy cop movies. The McCarthy-Bullock presence shook things up enough to make it good. Any time it started to get sappy, McCarthy somehow said something that both took it there and steered it clear of it simultaneously.

This could be blasphemy to some, but my wife and I actually thought this was better than BRIDESMAIDS. The only thing that BRIDESMAIDS had over THE HEAT was Chris "Roy" O'Dowd. Speaking of "IT Crowd"...

Future Friday question or article idea for rainy day:

Ken, what are your thoughts on British/foreign comedy and sitcoms? Have you encountered an obscure country that has such an outlandish sense of humor that our comedy pales in comparison? (I'd say Japan excluded since it's not obscure, but if you firmly believe it's Japan, go ahead and say Japan.)

jillian said...

I loved this film. McCarthy's monologue regarding her boss' missing balls was worth the price of admission.

Johnny Walker said...

I'm glad to hear that this movie is lot better than it looks.

Also: Is the number of fucks in an R-rated movie really something that people take into consideration when going to the cinema?

Jack said...

I gave up on "Mike & Molly" early when it became one gigantic fat joke. (For the record, I'm a fat dude and I have no problem with fat jokes...I just don't think you can build an entire series around them.) Maybe it's changed, but...

Anyway, I like Melissa McCarthy a lot. She was the only good part of "Bridesmaids," which I thought was painfully unfunny, and her hosting spot on SNL was very good. The woman is clearly fearless as an actor.

jbryant said...

rockgolf: Your expectations are wrong. Other than being a buddy-cop comedy, THE HEAT and THE OTHER GUYS aren't that similar. For one thing, THE HEAT isn't structured by a rather serious and somewhat confusing high-finance plotline (points for ambition, I guess). I thought both films offered some solid laughs though.

Nat Gerter (sitcom room veteran) said...

I am planning to use my time machine modem to send a message back to Nat Gertler of 1999, saying "do not invest in Freaks & Geeks in the Hollywood Futures Market, but invest in everyone involved." That show was Feig and Apatow behind the cameras, with James Franco, Seth Rogen, and Jason Segel in front of them (as well as folks who have gone on to smaller but still respectable careers.) It would cost $20 million per episode to make today...

Kevin Kelton said...

Did you notice that jokes from the trailer were not in the film. The scenes were, but the blows that were in the ads were outtakes from the glass cut scene, the jail cop scene, and others. Feels like cheating to me.

Slugwriter said...

Other than seeing every joke, plotline, and everything in between coming, I thought it was a very good. Not great. Just very good. And for not having a Boston accent, Melissa McCarthy was wicked awesome (as was Bullock)..

Sharon said...

I am not one of those who enjoyed this movie. While I may have chuckled once or twice, I didn't laugh once. And although I think Melissa McCarthy is talented, I have yet to see her in something that really uses her well. Look, I need a modicum of realism in order to enjoy a film. From the get-go, I couldn't understand why this woman was still gainfully employed by the Boston PD! She's a walking, talking lawsuit waiting to happen. The aforementioned scene where she insults and ridicules her boss was case in point. I can't think of any reason why an employee who treats her superior that way would not be fired on the spot, and the film chose not to provide me with a justification. And that's just one example. Anyway, while I thought LONE RANGER was a mess, it funnier (yes, I believe it was intentionally so!).

KatePowers said...

I liked "The Heat" a lot. It is farcical, but no more so than "Anchorman" or "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" or "Pineapple Express," and even better, I could enjoy myself without the vague suspicion that I was watching a boys club.

(I don't go out of my way to spot this stuff, but if you've watched "Anchorman" recently, it is slightly less funny to see the male characters strut their chauvinism for comic effect when, in the years since, McKay/Farrell have continued to make overwhelmingly male-driven projects.)

I thought the characters were really well crafted -- they were good at their jobs! They didn't slip and fall, they didn't walk into furniture. They get themselves out of trouble without help. And yet they were still flawed, still funny, still screw ups. And although there were male antagonists, I thought there was a nice spectrum of reasonable/jackass/appalling. (This wasn't Top of the Lake, at least.)

There was a young girl in my row at the theater -- maybe 12? And early on, I had vague misgivings about the wisdom of the adults who brought her. By the end of the movie, I was so glad she got to see two women being funny, smart badasses in a movie written by another woman.



Mac said...

Well it didn't look great from the trailer but it's sounds like it's worth a look. I don't mind formulaic films; most of them are the same handful of plots - providing the jokes and characterizations are fresh, I don't care if you can see plot points coming. Even a cheezy happy ending is fine if you've spent 90 minutes enjoying yourself.

Murray said...

I agree with you about 89% on this, Ken. Compared to the so-called comedies of the last decade, it's sharp and witty. Compared to the history of comedies and buddy movies, it's sloppy as a drunk thinking they're a riot.

What I find tiresome in modern comedy is the endless pounding on a joke. No quick zingers here. (ie: the captain's testicles). Pound on it, scream it out, drag the pulped remains around the theater and ask each viewer if they got the gag. "Yes, I understood it and finished laughing five minutes ago, thanks."

But, as you say, I did enjoy myself.

Well, except for when the barfly was blown to hamburger. Our Buddy Heroes didn't bat an eyelash. Sucks to be him, I guess. It was really hard to return to being sympathetic to the heroes again after that.

Dixon Steele said...

I also enjoyed THE HEAT, although without McCarthy, it might not have worked. Interesting to read that the role was written for a man and Universal went with MM after the great success of the over-rated BRIDESMAIDS (she was the funniest thing in that one too).

YEKIMI said...

I'm passing on any comedies for about three months. After having triple-bypass surgery and now having a small scale version of what looks like the Intercontinetntal Railway running down my chest even breathing hurts! I'm sure flatout laughter would kill me!

Lorimartian said...

I was interested in seeing it for McCarthy but probably won't after reading your review for the simple reason that I've always hated being bombarded by the f-word, whether in general conversation or film. I'm no prude, and a few well-placed expletives here and there are okay if there is a reason for them, but this sounds predictably gratuitous, excessive, and unnecessary.

That said, I think Melissa McCarthy is hilarious. She was self-deprecating and very funny telling personal stories during a Letterman appearance. She is someone I would pay to see, but I'll wait for the cable broadcast when I haven't spent time traveling to the theater and have the option to turn it off.

Todd Everett said...

Me on Facebook, July 2:

Just saw "The Heat." Pretty damned funny, and better written than appears on the surface.

The skeleton is your basis mismatched-cops picture, with one (Sandra Bullock) an FBI agent and the other (Melissa McCarthy) a Boston cop who resents an intrusion on her territory. One's crude and sloppy; the other's prim and klutzy (figuring who's which is not a contest). And you can see the coming plot beats (and maybe spot the villain) half an hour down the road.

But that may be intentional parody. More important, the jokes work -- including a couple of early set-ups that pay off big later on.

I didn't even mind the bonding scene where they dance together. Or Michael Rapaport.

Jane Curtin is wasted - pretty much unspottable if you didn't see her name in the opening credits -- but it's good to see her working. And Bullock and McCarthy are clearly ready for -- and deserve -- at least one sequel.

Charles H. Bryan said...

Not related to this subject but -- if any readers want a complete series set of FRASIER or CHEERS, Amazon has each on sale for about half the usual price. Looks like the sale runs to July 13th.

James said...

Sandra Bullock may be our generation's Jack Benny, in that she's secure enough to let other people get some applause, knowing that she'll benefit by it.

James said...

Is the number of fucks in an R-rated movie really something that people take into consideration when going to the cinema?

Some of us who are not really into excessive profanity do, yeah.

unkystan said...

When I first saw the trailer a few months ago I thought this was going to be a fun film. But then they started showing the red-band trailer (with R rated films, natch) and all the "F bombs" were there and my friend and I both thought that that killed the jokes, in fact it was off-putting. We went anyway (based on the reviews) and had a surpisingly good time. If I'd seen only the red-band I would have passed.
And a quick response to Kelton about bits in the trailer that are not in the film, that's ok with me. Aren't you tired of seeing the set-up and when the punchline comes in you've already seen it. I like having the rug pulled out from me. I did notice that in the trailer the bit with Sandy breaking the glass and her screaming that her hand had no cut or blood. Obviously an outtake but that's ok. Since trailers are made before the final cut I'm guessing a lot of bits are not in the finished film.
But I digress, I had a good time.

KatePowers said...

Dixon, do you have a link for the story that talks about "The Heat" being written for a man? That was true of "Identity Thief," but I've seen a very early draft of "The Heat" -- when it was an untitled cop buddy movie and the villains were all Russian -- and both characters are women even then.

VP81955 said...

Could Melissa McCarthy carry a comedy without raunch, or is that an impossibility today, given that the audience for films such as these demands raunch? Either way, more's the pity.

McAlvie said...

McCarthy was the only reason to watch Bridesmaids, and she was brilliant, so I fully expect her to knock it out of the park with Heat, which I haven't seen yet but certainly intend to. Bullock is a class act. A beautiful woman who is comfortable enough in her own skin to play anything and let her character be the butt of a joke. Everyone I know who has seen this movie has given it a thumbs up, and I don't really care that its a formula. Formulas work when they have brains and talent in front.

And, frankly, we need to laugh more. Kudos to Bullock for not taking herself too seriously, and to McCarthy for going after something besides the "best friend" roles. I could wish they didn't feel compelled to use the raunchy language, as a really good script and first class acting doesn't need it. But that's an entirely different thing from using foul language to make up for the lack in script and acting.

Charles Jurries said...

Having seen Melissa McCarthy in GILMORE GIRLS and SAMANTHA WHO?, I know she can be hilarious without filth. She does good with filth, but, she can play "PG" characters well.

I'm just glad she's getting her day in the sun. She's talented and she deserves the popularity she is getting.

jbryant said...

I guess I missed this overrated version of BRIDESMAIDS everybody's talking about. The one I saw was funny and involving, even if it did have some rough edges and loose ends (always a likelihood when improv is involved). And as great as McCarthy was, I'd still say Kristen Wiig was the MVP, with kudos also to Rose Byrne's underrated turn.

Joe Prude said...

Here's the amazing, shocking thing about Heat: It's a contemporary R-rated comedy that actually isn't vulgar, and is actually sometimes hilariously funny. Yes, there are lots of fucks and some anatomical talk about vaginas, but it's really not in the universe of raunch found in Bridesmaids or your basic Apatow/Rogen/Hangover movie. Maybe it's a sad commentary that these days a movie with about 150 fucks can count as refreshingly clean.

I also found noteworthy that it found the one (apparently) remaining group, other than Mormons, which it's ok to stereotype and make fun of: albinos.

Marlon St. John Green said...

"Credit Katie Dippold with writing hilarious lines for her to say."

I hear much of the hilarious stuff came from adlib and improv.

Kaleberg said...

Was Bridesmaids a comedy? We couldn't tell.

Mike Tyson said...

Sandra Bullock is beautiful, sexy and charming. A good grade receives at naturalness. She's not an actress artificial. A good actor is the key to success. Actor good means good movie. Dialogue is another significant part which gather fans.