Salted with Sharks

“The Heat” Left Us Cold

In Culture Bluffs on July 29, 2013 at 10:28 am

By Vince Hancock & Gayle Crampton


Special to the Elberta Alert
You may have noticed a drop in temperature lately.  That’s because The Heat just closed at the Garden Theater. Good.

From our bird’s-eye perspective in Bear Lake, it’s bad form to rain on anyone’s parade, whether the parade is held in Frankfort or not.  It’s generally impolite to criticize any effort in a region while summer guests are in town. Today’s $5 popcorn sale can be February’s Consumers Energy regular scheduled payment.
But now the danger has passed. The worst economic damage we (including you) can do now is deny RedBox and Netflix a few bucks when this movie crowds out other choices. There’s only so much graphic display space to go around.  In three months or less, this movie’s artwork will undoubtedly displace that of other worthy flicks.
The problem with this female-cop buddy movie is the writing. The contrivances, gags, chutes, and ladders that Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy must struggle through are the same ones that try the patience of their fans.
Bullock and McCarthy are fun to watch, especially when they perform together.
Unfortunately, those moments are few: during a bar scene, when Bullock’s prim FBI character finally cuts loose (to catch a crook) and when the pair have an offhand moment to serve and protect a choking restaurant patron. But one has to wade through the premise setup, the character establishment, and a grab-bag of ostensibly comedic devices before arriving at the good parts.

In this age of Really! Really? Really?!? movies, with nonstop, outrageous gags, self-aware mockery reigns. In most of comic cinema today, gross-out scenes predominate. In this film, it’s Fun With Diversity.  McCarthy’s cop chases down a black guy (a pimp and small-time drug dealer, natch) knocking him down with a watermelon. He points out the cultural infelicity of this, but she disavows any racist intention.  After all, “Nine out of 10 guys I f*** are black,” she says.

Lest we assume too much about the writers of the film, the pimp is not the only black character. He’s presumably balanced out by the local FBI field agent, who dresses professionally, makes a few passes at Bullock’s character and is given a brief heroic moment at the end. See? All better. Really!
The movie is set in Boston, but the only time we’re aware of a Boston accent is in a goofy scene about halfway through the movie, when one of McCarthy’s brothers tells a narc-narc joke. What did he say? Knock? What? What? Oh—he’s asking if the agent is a narcotics officer! 
Then there’s the albino. For the sake of a number of white jokes, a federal drug enforcement agent, lacking pigment, is introduced. Since he’s a jerk and few of us encounter the genetically superpale, no harm done. He deserves it. Really?!?     
The 15 minutes of comedic chemistry between Bullock and McCarthy should have been expanded to 2 hours. Their drunken dancing and idiotic foolishness are actually entertaining, along with a panicky but sober scene of an impromptu medical procedure. If you really must watch this movie, keep your eyes on the top of the straw, at the bottom of the screen.
Occasionally, we are meant to appreciate a few touching scenes. Family bonding creeps in and there’s a gentle running cat joke we liked. The other attempts at warm fuzzies gave us hairballs. We apologized and tipped the Garden Theater staff extra. It’s not their fault.

If you want to see strong women onscreen, see Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games, Jodie Foster in Contact, and Miriam Schor & John Cameron Mitchell in Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Despicable Me 2 plays at the Garden Theater until August 1. It’s the sequel to the animated film with Steve Carrell and others voicing the characters. Turbo, about a racing snail, pulls into the Garden soon. Expect much less profanity in these two than in The Heat.

The Garden Theater
301 W. Main Street
Frankfort, MI  49635
(231) 352-7561

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