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Mike Wilmington

By Mike Wilmington

Wilmington on Movies: The Heat

THE HEAT (Three Stars)
U.S.: Paul Feig, 2013

DF-05582_R2_rgbThe Heat is  a crude, violent, often tasteless, clichéd  and outrageously foul-mouthed buddy-buddy cop comedy that also happens to be funny — sometimes screamingly funny.  Perhaps that’s because the two star buddy-buddy cops this time, are  female versions  of a classic comedy team pair, a couple of  wildly mismatched, hilariously maladjusted but in the end,  solidly simpatico partners: a neurotic. skinny N. Y. FBI agent with scant social skills named Sarah Ashburn  (played by Sandra Bullock), and a badmouth bullying heavyweight Boston cop-babe named Shannon Mullins (played, and how,  By Melissa McCarthy). When the two meet, after Sarah travels to Boston on a drug case, which turns out to be the same one that Shannon iis already sniffing around, it’s hate at first sight, followed by inevitable “odd couple” buddyhood. (Ashburn is Felix; Mullins is Oscar.)

Perhaps it’s also because the director — Paul Feig, who guided McCarthy in Kristen Wiig’s hit gal-buddy messed-up-wedding  comedy Bridesmaids — seems to be terrific with comic actresses, bawdy dialogue and goofy timing. Perhaps it’s because screenwriter, Katie Dippold (Parks and Recreation) and most of the cast (Sarah is the skittish one)  seem  to have no, or few, inhibitions about language, particular the kind with four or ten or twelve letters that George Carlin couldn‘t say on TV.  You’ll have to forgive the show a few crimes and misdemeanors — such as  the constant stream of scatological gags and the disregard of proper police procedure. Some of the humor is bad or raunchy or both, And the jokes that misfire — like the emergency tracheotomy scene conducted (ineptly) by Sarah in a Boston eatery — are the kind you want to forget, but usually can’t.

But it was fun, foul-mouthed slapstick fun –rowdy and fast and packed with zingers. And, in any case, if The Heat doesn‘t make you laugh, a little, it should at least give you a case of contact jollies from all the people around you who will be laughing. At McCarthy of course, but also at the rest of a prime comic cast, including Tony Hale as the comic John manhandled by Mullins when she busts him with a hooker, Dan Bakkedal as the comic albino DEA .agent,  Michael McDonald as Julian, the comic thug who drives a knife into the thigh of the tied-up Ashburn, and Spoken Reasons (that’s the name) as the comic drug dealer Rojas, who is comically dangled over the street to scare hell and info out of him,

Then, there’s Shannon’s comically dysfunctional Boston family, which includes Michael Rapaport as Jason, the ex-con drug dealer, and Jane Curtin as the clan‘s foul-mouthed matriarch. Thank God there were no comical serial killers in The Heat, but I’m not so sure Feig and his cast couldn’t  have pulled that one off too. A lot of  the more spontaneous-looking-and-sounding stuff the cast does, especially McCarthy, smells like improvisation and , in any case, feels like it.  Comedy is often a matter of observation and timing, and Sarah and Shannon are both pretty well-observed (if wildly exaggerated) characters as well as being classic comic “types:” the hysteric and the wise guy — a mixture of Cagney and Lacey and Abbott and Costello, or The Bridesmaids and Lemmon & Matthau., or maybe The Dixie Chicks and The Three Stooges.

The Oscar-winning Bullock, playing way off-type in the beginning,  put me off at first. (Maybe  her impersonation of a prig and a pill was a little too sharp) But, when she loosens up, the interpretation grows on you and works just fine —  and McCarthy, as usual these days, nails every laugh in sight. I never saw her on TV, in Mike & Molly, but she‘s obviously one of the best star movie comedienne around right now (in sheer volume of laughs delivered). And though it’s overdoing things to proclaim this picture as some kind of feminist breakthrough, it is encouraging to see a big-audience movie whose two stars are women, both over 40, and both letting it all hang out.

t’s loud, it’s obnoxious, it’s sometimes nasty, but when it’s cooking, it’s a gut-buster. One thing I didn’t like about it though is the title, The Heat — which I guess refers to the “heat” these ladies are bringing down on the drug gang. But…The Heat? Nah. Sounds too much like that great 1995 De Niro-Pacino crime thriller, or maybe like some horror movie about fire-creatures chasing screaming people through a graveyard. Maybe they should have called it Ashburn and Mullins. Too obscure? Anyway, the point, as they say, is moot, because there’s already a The Heat 2 in the works. No more tracheotomy jokes though, I hope.

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One Response to “Wilmington on Movies: The Heat”

  1. Clare says:

    Loud, obnoxious and foul-mouthed…sounds like movie heaven!…and also strangely reminiscent of my workplace 🙂


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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon