Oct 14, 2013

[Movies] The Heat (2013)

I spent part of the weekend with my brother and we ended up watching The Heat given neither of us were up to anything more complex in terms of plot. Well, we certainly got what we were looking for in this movie.

When I had first seen the trailers for this movie, I already knew that this was going to be a pretty shallow movie. It follows the classic Old Couple type of trope given a pairing of somewhat conflicting personalities, but adds very little to things beyond that. And it's not like we could expect anything else, I suppose. But still, if you're going to tell any kind of story, it's not unreasonable to expect a relative degree of narrative flow and more importantly character development. And this movie really just put together two caricatures and hoped to make them work.

And it's a shame since both are clearly talented actresses and this level of comedy seems somewhat beneath them. Then again, I think wit every movie of this nature that comes along I just continue to reinforce how this brand of comedy just doesn't resonate with me.

Synopsis: The Heat is a 2013 comedy movie directed by Paul Feig, who also directed Bridesmaids. The screenplay was written by Katie Dippold, who also writes for Parks and Recreation.

We first meet FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) - keen, intelligent and amazingly perceptive with respect to the cases that she works on. However in other matters such as getting along with her colleagues, she's pretty much in the dark. Given a pending promotion opportunity, she's dispatched to Boston to pursue a lead related to a drug kingpin named Larkin.

In Boston she meets police detective Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) under less than ideal circumstances since Ashburn needs to interview the low level dealer that she had arrested. Given the usual jurisdictional issues that come between FBI and local police, there's immediate friction. But beyond that, Mullins is a Boston girl through and through and is rather violent in how she deals with conflict. And her style applies to both criminals and fellow members of the department. Thus when Ashburn is tasked to work with Mullins on the case, you know things can't go well.

From a character development standpoint, we're given little reason to like either character for the first half of the movie. As much as these types of comedies follow a bit of a formula, that is always to be expected. But despite the formula, that does not excuse poor character writing. And I really couldn't find a reason to relate to our two female leads since one is horribly uncouth and the other is a real big jerk. Things start to turn around once they have their much-expected bonding scene - in this case an all-night drinking session at a bar. That was probably the best moment of the movie.

The first half of the movie is mostly about just how much Melissa McCarthy can weird out the audience with her foul mouth, her odd habits, and her love for guns and violence in general. Thus we have her in more and more ridiculous situations and excuses to somehow abuse Ashburn. The later part of the movie is just them trying to be caricatures of Strong Female characters or something.

Sandra Bullock was decently okay, but it's hard to tell her current FBI character apart from her FBI character in the Miss Congeniality movies. She comes complete with a Hispanic superior officer for this case, so the resonance was pretty strong. But I think that character was a lot more fleshed out than her Ashburn role.

The overall plot wasn't exactly that bad - there were some mildly surprising reveals over the course of the movie but if you spend any amount of time studying things, then it becomes obvious what's going to happen next and who the "villains" in this movie turn out to be. There's a lot of internal inconsistencies given how it's strange that an officer like Mullins has kept her job for this long without getting some form of reprimands or disciplinary action from her superiors. And to even resist FBI involvement in any investigation seems even more unrealistic.

The Heat has its fun moments but the whole thing just didn't grip me all that much. I guess without a reason to support or even just like the lead characters made the movie that much harder to enjoy. So I can only rate it as 3.5 obscenities from Mullins and the rest of her family out of a possible 5.

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