Have any of you seen The Heat? I more or less ignored it until I was stuck on an airplane last week with nothing to do. I won’t claim to be glad that I was on an airplane for so long, but I am glad that I had the chance to watch the movie. The Heat combines stupidity, comedy, entertainingly awkward social interactions and a dash of action in the very familiar buddy-cop formula, and comes out just ahead of the grade. We’re not talking about a new classic, but it’s a fun and funny movie that will happily scratch your comedy-action itch. Better yet, it delivers the tried-and-true buddy-cop comedy with all-female leads.
While there are vast swathes of buddy-cop movies, hordes of films in which we can watch men being silly with and at each other while they fight crime, The Heat is the first that I know of in the genre which stars two women in the leading roles. While this point may feel overplayed, it’s still a big frickin’ deal as far as women’s movie roles are concerned, especially because The Heat has been so successful. I’m not begging for a sequel, but I could certainly go for more movies like it. Why? Well…
I’ve seen enough of these movies to have a good feel for where the story beats are going to come; I won’t claim that I can call them all before they show up, but I rarely feel surprised. Following the ladies offers a different experience. I still expect the pieces that are staples of the buddy-cop genre (which The Heat delivers on), but The Heat’s take on romantic side-interests is refreshingly entertaining (the plucky puppy-dog local FBI agent is worth a good laugh, as are Melissa McCarthy’s terribly mixed signals). These aren’t really new, just a fun reworking of already well-known story patterns.
But I really think the interpersonal social dynamics deserve a mention: we end up sympathizing with two women who are clearly not especially sympathetic according to our standard cultural expectations. These are women who have almost certainly been called “bitch” repeatedly by their detractors. They are brash, overbearing, and competent. But instead of disapproving of them the movie clearly wants us to like them. Novel and intriguing, no? We’ve long been shown men like this and been told that they were protagonists, it seems only fitting that we should see a movie with women in those roles.
The Heat isn’t a masterpiece. It isn’t even terribly unconventional except for its casting of two female leads and how that plays out in the film. But if you are looking for a movie to watch with your friends and you feel the need for buddy-cop goodness, take a look at The Heat.
Oh and by the way, talk about badass: crawling down a long corridor to shoot the bad guy after being stabbed repeatedly in the leg? Groovy. It’s very reminiscent of poor shoeless John McLean with his room full of broken glass in Die Hard.