The Heat

Posted by Michael Parsons on June 28, 2013 in / No Comments


I think I’ll file “The Heat” under “not nearly as bad as I’d expected”, because I can’t bring myself to outright recommend it, but at the same time I’ll be watching it again when it comes out on video. Though the film is funny more often than not, it’s also very easy to forget; in other words, you might have a hard time recalling why you were laughing so much. In fact, I’m having trouble remembering right now – I just know that I was laughing.

104179_galRelatively even-keeled for this brand of comedy and also pretty tame compared to its R-rated contemporaries (even with some very descriptive dialogue, it doesn’t come close to some of these other “gross out” comedies), “The Heat” could have been much better had it shed about twenty minutes of painfully labored scenes and lagging sidebars. Thankfully, the dynamic between its two leads, Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, is appealing and funny enough to make these stupid moments tolerable (the worst of them being a drunken dance routine at a dive bar during the requisite bonding montage – do people really find those funny?). Ultimately, it turns out to be a pleasant surprise, even if the actors could’ve played these roles in their sleep.

Director Paul Feig’s extremely well-received “Bridesmaids” was overrated in my opinion, but it brought the talented McCarthy to light at the very least. “The Heat” is about on par with that film, though ironically might end up underrated (it’s okay, a sequel is already in the works). Following a straight-laced FBI agent (Bullock) who’s forced to team up with a grungy, foul-mouthed Boston detective (McCarthy) in order to catch a high-profile drug dealer, the film revitalizes the female comedy with nary a wedding dress nor poopy diaper to be found. Nope – this is strictly guns, grenades and profanity, with the occasional clever joke thrown in for good measure.

You might think that this would be McCarthy’s movie based on the audience it’s geared toward, but Bullock, basically drawing from her characters in “Miss Congeniality” and “The Proposal”, reminds us that she knows how to do a real comedy now and again. She has one of the best lines in the film; when the coroner shows them a man whose tongue had been removed and placed in his backside, she refers to it as “tongue-in-cheek”.

the-heat-mccarthy-bullock-gunThe film takes all the necessary turns to ensure that Bullock’s buttoned-up Agent Ashburn gets out of her pantsuit shell and McCarthy’s greasy, loose cannon Detective Mullins improves on her expletive-laden communication skills. There’s the expected head-butting  – sometimes quite literally. While dealing with various seedy characters, from an array of drug dealers to Mullins‘ estranged family (Jane Curtin is underutilized as her perpetually angry mom, and Michael Rapaport plays the sweet-natured brother she put behind bars for something or other), the plot borrows from any number of classic buddy pictures, but most of the story is an afterthought to the repartee between Bullock and McCarthy. “The Heat” is certainly better than any male ensemble comedy I’ve seen this year (I keep finding myself using “Hangover Part III” as an example of that), at the same time removing gender emphasis almost entirely. Written by “Mad TV” contributor Katie Dippold, “The Heat” isn’t exactly smart comedy. It just has the right feeling behind it.


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Michael Parsons

Father. Realtor®. Movie nut. After pestering my parents for their commentary on “Star Wars” when I was four years old, my mind went into a creative frenzy. I’d imagined something entirely different than the actual film, which I didn’t end up seeing until its 1979 re-release at the Uptown Theater in Washington, DC. This was my formal introduction to the cinema.

During that long wait, which felt like an eternity to a child, my mind was being molded by more corrosive stuff like “Trilogy of Terror” and “Rosemary’s Baby”, most of which I’d conned various babysitters into letting me watch on television ( I convinced one poor lady that “Jaws” was actually “Moby Dick”).

The folks were pretty strict in that regard, so the less appropriate it was for a kid to watch, the more I was fascinated by it. Horror staples like “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th”, as well as lesser-known low-budget fare like “Madman”, “Sleepaway Camp” and “Pieces” all ended up sneaking their way into the VHS on a regular basis.

Since then, I’ve developed an obsession with the entire film industry. Even though I watch and review a wide breadth of films these days, my appreciation for the campy, poorly lit micro-budgeters still lends itself to my evolving perspective on movies just as much as the summer blockbusters and Oscar contenders. As I recall my trips to the movie theater, I realize that this stuff is about much more than just a fleeting piece of entertainment.

A couple years ago, I was finally given the opportunity to lend my opinion on films to a publication, The Rogers Revue, with a subsequent run at Reel Film News. It's been both a privilege and a gateway to what we’re doing now. Most of my experience has come from interviewing independent filmmakers, who consistently promote innovation. The filmmaking process is grueling and relatively unforgiving.

Fellow film enthusiast Eddie Pasa and I have created DC Filmdom as a medium for film reviews, discussion, and (inevitably) some debate. And so, the creative frenzy continues.

(Michael is a member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association).

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