Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Film Review: The Heat

My friend Blimpy once said that a mark of a funny comedy is that you find yourself quoting it right after.

After my wife and I left The Heat, I couldn't remember a single joke.

The set up is same cop/action premise we've seen a thousand times.  Sandra Bullock plays FBI agent Sarah Ashburn, who is a great agent, but no one likes her.  She is sent to nab a Boston crime lord and must work with "loose cannon" Shannon Mullins, played by Melissa McCarthy.  There isn't much more to the story than that.

Now, given this set up, everything depends on the execution of the humor, and here is where it fails.  The performances aren't bad, but the jokes can be seen coming a mile away and there is very little chance for surprising humor.

There are 3 big mistakes in this film.

1.  The movie substitutes jokes with vulgarity.  Look, I don't mind crudeness in my movies per se.  I maintain that Ted was one of the funniest, best written films last year.  But when that movie used vulgar language or ideas, it had a wit behind it.  The Heat does not.  It feels like when they couldn't think of a punch line, they substituted a curse word.

2.  The jokes went on to long.  Brevity is the soul of wit.  Sometimes you can carry a joke out so long that it becomes funny (e.g. Sideshow Bob and the rake or Peter Griffin and his knee).  But often Melissa McCarthy would hit a punch line, but then continue elaborating on it to the point where the initial impact of the joke gets smudged away.  They needed to hit the punch line and move on.

3.  I could not believe Bullock as an FBI agent.  She is capable of doing so, even in comedies like Miss Congeniality.  But she was so insecure and dainty throughout most of the movie, that I had trouble taking her seriously as woman of action.  I don't blame her as much as the bland script and direction.

When you leave a comedy, you want to feel good when you leave the theater.  I left The Heat, feeling like I wasted hours of my life that I couldn't get back.

1 out of 5 stars.

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