Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Heat, My Take


UPDATE:  The sleep gremlins strike again.  Or, rather, the lack of sleep gremlins.  My Live Writer has the most annoying habit of giving an error message the first time I try to publish a post, so that I have to do it again to actually get the thing to go live.  It doesn’t happen all the time, but often enough that my process is to wait and make sure that I see the post on the web before I know I’m done.  Well, last night I hit publish, and I was waiting, but that must’ve been when I fell asleep, then when I woke up I didn’t remember what I was waiting for and simply went on to bed.  I know this because this morning when I came to peek at my email, I found the post sitting here with the annoying error message.  Oh, well; things happen.  Better late than never.



 Well, let’s just say this right up front:  Yes, I am using my television post slot to talk about a theatrically released feature film.  But, as I said back in the day at the beginning of Tube Day Tuesday, TV can be a starting point.  In this case, the starting point is the star of a current weekly television comedy, Melissa McCarthy.

For those who don’t watch a lot of television, maybe you don’t know that she’s currently starring in the fourth season of Mike and Molly (jeez, I can’t believe it’s been that long already), but that’s kind of her “day job” these days.  Incidentally, I could fill a whole post with the things I think about Mike and Molly, but we’ll let that wait for another time.

But this summer, we see her along side Sandra Bullock in the new movie, The Heat.  In a nutshell, you’ve got two law enforcement officers, one local and one fed, who seemingly have nothing in common except their desire to solve a case.  The same case.  So, of course, they have to work together.  Comedy ensues. 

So, first, a tiny bit about my biases:  comedies are rarely my first choice because, frankly, good ones are hard to find, but I could watch a good buddy cop movie any time.  Oh, that, and I usually like Sandra Bullock, and I like McCarthy in her series.  So, basically, I went into the movie figuring I wouldn’t hate it, but I didn’t have particularly high hopes, though I had heard rave reviews about it.

In terms of the odd-couple bit, Bullock plays Ashburn, a straight-laced and driven federal agent who knows her business and gets the job done, but doesn’t make a lot of friends along the way.  Then you’ve got McCarthy as Mullins, a local Boston police detective who is a brash and loud, f-bomb dropping antitheses to everything Ashburn stands for, who also doesn’t make a lot of friends.  But as I mentioned, they have to work together to catch the bad guy.

Here’s another bias for you:  I don’t find foul language particularly funny in and of itself.  Not that I’m all puritanical about it or anything, I just find it a pretty cheap and lazy way of establishing a character.  Oh, and in real life, I just usually consider it unnecessary and often unbecoming.  All that being said, Mullins was a funny character.  Over the top sometimes?  Well, yeah.  But still funny, and manages to make it all work.  My sister tells me that it ought to work, because that’s essentially the McCarthy movie role, that she’s pretty much the same in all of her films.  Well, I’ve never seen any of her other films, so I can’t really speculate, but I can say that Mullins is not the same as Molly Flynn.  Oh, Molly is opinionated, and she can pop you with a quick, sarcastic zinger, but she’s not quite as loud-mouthed and in-your-face as Mullins.  And, she’s not even given to the more limited cursing that would be allowed on network television.  Still, even though McCarthy made it work, I think the character could have worked just as well even without all the f-bombs. 

Bullock’s Ashburn character is definitely the good cop and straight man in this partnership.  She’s more reserved in everything that she does, and she’s easily frustrated by Mullins’ seeming inability to dial it down a notch.  She’s also totally wrapped up in her job and about as socially awkward as a teenager at their first boy-girl party.  She’s just starting to come to grips with the idea that maybe she’s not everyone’s favorite fed, so she’s working through some insecurity issues that hadn’t really reached her professional life too much before.  That probably shouldn’t be funny, but it is, and it makes her more susceptible to going along with Mullins and her crazy way of doing things.  Plus, working successfully with the local officer has been made part of her assignment if she hopes to end up with the big promotion she’s chasing, so she’d determined to make it work.

And, of course, it does work.  In the spirit of the best buddy cops around, the two characters are equal in their basic abilities as well as their desire to do the right thing.  Their differences are many, and they’re glaring, but in the most fundamental ways, the two are alike.  So of course they click, of course they bond, and of course they catch the bad guy.  I will say that’s one thing about cop comedies that I can totally get behind: the good guys pretty much always win. 

And I think the audience wins with this movie.  It’s not deep, not likely to win any awards, but it’ll make you laugh, the characters move it forward, they’re characters that you can feel attached to and cheer for, and watching them work through their own quirks along with their partner’s makes for an entertaining evening.  And, there is already talk of a sequel.  Whether such chemistry can be repeated remains to be seen, but it’s been done before.  And I’d pay my money to give them a chance at another go round.  And, if you haven’t seen this one yet, I vote it’s worth your money to treat yourself to a few laughs.