Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Medium Heat

Sandra Bullock received wide praise (and an Oscar nomination) for her performance in Gravity last year, but that was one of two recent movies to feature her. From the "and now for something completely different" file, we have The Heat.

The movie treads almost painfully familiar "buddy cop comedy" ground. Two talented law enforcement officials. One is straight-laced, the other rebellious. The two are forced to work together, and hate every minute of it until they each gain a grudging respect for the other. There's really nothing unique about this movie. And yet there's one quite unique thing about it: the two leads are female.

It's frankly sad that it's taken so long to see a movie like this headlined by two women. And unfortunately, the script basically takes this one bit of "originality" and calls it a day. It's really just not a very clever or entertaining film otherwise. But then, to a large extent, I suppose every movie of this genre begins and ends with the casting of its two leads.

Any shortcomings of the movies aren't really the fault of these two leads, Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. Both have strong comic chops. Their styles complement each other, and they definitely cut loose and have fun with the roles. But it's as though the two have to manufacture most of the laughs themselves. The best moments in the movie feel improvised, caught in the odd "one more take" or in the seconds after the director called "cut."

All told, I'd only rate The Heat somewhere around a C-. I'm not sure that much better could have come from such a simple premise, but I wish it had.

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