Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Heat (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

The Heat

Here is a film that seemed destined to be made since "Bridesmaids" turned the macho college guy genre on its heels (literally)  two years ago. Now by the director of that successful film, Paul Feig, there is "The Heat" which subverts the buddy cop film by giving the starring irreverence to two women. "Cagney & Lacy" this thankfully, is not.

Sandra Bullock plays a prim, arrogant, and by the book FBI Agent Sarah Ashburn who is insufferable in her correctness. She is under pressure to prove herself as a promotion looms within reach but an agency head, blandly played like a saltine by Demian Belchir sets a daunting task in front of her: find an elusive drug lord and bring him to justice.

Granted, the all too basic plot could be electronically generated by an iPhone app and doesn't go anywhere all that arresting, but the story is a mere vehicle for the antics of the powerhouse known as Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids, Mike and Molly). McCarthy plays Shannon Mullins, an obnoxious Boston cop who uses her body as a loaded weapon. McCarthy's comedy is primarily physical in nature: just looking at her matter of fact expression and her pushiness is enough to burst in guffaws. She uses the awkwardness in her body as an advantage, reminiscent of  the late comic Chris Farley.

We know what's going to unfold: Officer Mullins has an inside scoop on the local crime scene and Ashburn needs help. Bullock plays the straight woman to McCarthy's rolling aggressive antics and its a good thing that McCarthy is a riot throughout. Her body language is giggle inducing as is her unexpected garbage mouth. Think of an updated John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd pair with todays ironic sensibilities: She's the only woman that I know that can make a threat to the groin with a gun funny, along with a full-body fall. While Bullock gives the straight shtick, she also has her moments with her deadpan lines.

The only drawback is the slightly disappointing cast of secondary players who are otherwise talented and very funny. Michael McDonald's appearance  (MADtv) as a villain is too generic, and Dan Bakkedahl as a smarmy and frost complexioned henchman is just not interesting. Fans of Jane Curtin (an original "SNL" siren) might well be mystified as she has only two lines, if that.

Despite these minor slights, Bullock and McCarthy make a rip-roaring pair as they trade nearly (but only just) offensive barbs back and forth and back again. The movie shines in the liberties that McCarthy takes with her body and her cast members' personal space. The joke is in guessing how far Melissa McCarthy will go as a person and as a comedian. If the cat doesn't open you up to giggles, the team of Bullock and McCarthy will, in spite of all formulaic events.

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1 comment:

Paula Angelique Hafner said...

It was fun to see Bullock in a comedy. The two worked well together. Some very funny timing.