Get out your half-eaten subs and spanx, we're reviewing The Heat!
Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) is an uptight FBI agent looking to get a promotion, but no one likes working with her. When she's on the trail of a new drug kingpin, she has to work with a local Boston detective, Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy), a loud tough cop that everyone's afraid of. Can they put their differences aside and work together?
This is the first movie this year that I would call "laugh-out-loud hilarious." I laughed my ass off during the entire thing. It's really, really funny. And none of that, "Oh it's funny for a woman” comedy, no – it's just flat-out HILARIOUS. There's always something to laugh at, whether it's inventive swearing on McCarthy's part, or physical humor, or some great character work from one of the two leads. I knew McCarthy would be funny, but Bullock is surprisingly perfect in her role! They have crazy-good chemistry together. I loved it! I want a sequel… no, TWO sequels, and a series on a major network with at least four seasons.
I would really like to say, "This is a hilarious buddy-cop comedy and go see it!" instead of, "Hey this is an amazing buddy-cop comedy with two female protagonists!" because it should not be that big a deal that there's a major action-comedy opening with a female lead. But here we are! There are not enough female-led movies that aren't romantic comedies. It amazes me how much this is by all accounts a regular “guy” comedy with TWO female leads! TWO! How did that happen?! And it's not even the movie’s main message that these are two women taking charge, and that women can do badass action stuff! It's just assumed by everyone in the movie world that Ashburn is meticulous at her job and Mullins is a certified badass, and the conflict comes out of overcoming their respective character flaws. It's as if they treated them like they're human beings, instead of strange “others” or “babes” to be ogled at! OH, WHAT – HOW – THAT'S UNHEARD OF! What I'm saying is that it's amazing how normal this movie treats itself, AS IT SHOULD. I mean, GEEZ, it should not be THAT BIG OF A DEAL, but somehow it is! Ugh! I would say you should go see this even if it was mediocre just to prove to the higher-ups in the studios that women-led movies that aren't romantic comedies can sell – but, thankfully, I can also say that you should go see it because it's hysterical and perfect and awesome.
McCarthy's Mullins is a perfect character. She's tough and funny and swears like a sailor and has fun and is flawed and she's a normal looking woman. She looks like a normal human being! She is not some over-sexualized sex object for guys to ogle, and yet, she has sexuality. All of these guys flock to her, nearly begging to take her out on a date just because of how awesome she is. She's basically a female version of that schlubby guy that gets all the women – the one that’s in, like, every movie now. And the flaw she has to get over isn't her looks. (So she can get a man – she can get any man she wants!) I love how this is treated like it's normal, because… it is! Mullins is a role-model for normal women who want to grow up to be badasses and date any man they want.
Ashburn is the exact opposite – a great contrast. She's meticulous in her work and has keen observation skills, but she can't handle talking to people. She seems to have trouble flirting and dating, but it's treated less like a major problem the movie has to solve and more of a minor character flaw that's not that important. And it's not just because she's a stuck-up book nerd who needs to learn how to be sexy. She has real, deep-rooted character flaws. I am so, SO glad that there isn't a scene where she has to "come out of her shell" and miraculously look hot by taking off her glasses and putting on a dress. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to find that she is also not over-sexualized! She has her own style and no one really begrudges her it… except for Mullins, because she likes to bust her ovaries. The only change she undergoes is becoming more badass and letting out her inner drunken sailor.
Also, can I say how nice it is that there is a movie with two female leads, and neither one of them are threatened with rape or sexual violence? There are so many movies that have women as major and minor characters that are threatened with rape and everyone just accepts that it's “normal,” as though everyone automatically defaults to rapist when society comes crumbling down. It's really pretty gross, guys. Not to say that rape should never be portrayed, but the idea that it's expected that that should happen whenever a woman is captured, or every time a female fights a bad guy, is really not ok. And that doesn't happen here! Even when they're both captured by the bad guys (it's a pretty straight buddy-cop movie so of course they get captured), they are threatened with torture like normal human beings, instead of someone threatening to "take their innocence away" or "have some fun with them." Progress!
I'm also fairly sure that this JUST BARELY passes the Bechdel Test for guys. (The Reverse Bechdel?) Like, there are barely any scenes with named guys talking to each other about other guys, and I find that hilarious. TAKE THAT, MEN!
There's not that much action, but I was laughing so much and so hard I didn't care. It definitely leans more towards the comedy aspect of action-comedy, and I am fine with that. Sure, I would have enjoyed some shoot-outs and a female-led major action movie, but I am really happy with the pacing, action, and uproarious insanity that is presented. I'm really glad that most of the movie and funny bits weren't presented in the trailers. Even if you watch all the trailers for The Heat there will still be a good 75% more hilariousity to laugh at, which is more than I can say for most comedies. (I’M LOOKIN' AT YOU, HANGOVER 3)
Can I also say this movie has style? It's presented as a super funky 70's/80's buddy-cop flick, complete with funky-fresh intro and credits. And the soundtrack is a wide range of classic funk, hip-hop, rock and rap. It's enjoyable.
Bullock and McCarthy do amazing jobs as the leads, but there are a myriad of other amazing cameos, most of which I don't want to spoil. Needless to say, there's a lot of, "Hey it's that guy!" around. Also, Marlon Wayans is in this! I kind of wish there was more of a relationship between him and Bullock just because there aren’t a lot of inter-racial relationships between a black man and a white woman. (Unless overcoming racism is the main message… go ahead, think up a movie with that kind of coupling that doesn’t involve Will Smith or The Rock!) But I accept that they didn't want to focus too heavily on a romantic subplot.
The Heat is a laugh-out-loud, hilarious, funny, entertaining buddy-cop action-comedy with two female leads. There's no reason you shouldn't go see this immediately, and tell Hollywood we want more just like it!
THE GOOD: Action-comedy with 2 lead female roles, incredibly funny, great main characters, funny cameos, great acting, great soundtrack, women are treated like human beings and not over-sexualized.
THE BAD: That this is extraordinary?
THE VERDICT: $$$$$ It's hilarious and it has two female leads! Go see it! Multiple times! Take your friends! Kidnap people and take them to this movie!
MOVIES LIKE IT: The Other Guys, The Good Guys, 48 Hours, Lethal Weapon, Miss Congeniality,
ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: Ashburn and Mullins have to infiltrate a nightclub and get to a target by acting "sexy" while dancing. Mullins rips through Ashburn's clothes to make her fit in more, but instead of magically looking sexy, she still looks pretty ridiculous. And of course Mulins doesn't need to change or get help because she exudes sexuality. Progress!