The Heat

Art & Culture

I’m all for more leading roles for women. I’m not just not sure whether leading roles consisting of caricatures of femininity in a role reversal buddy cop movie is the way forward. Bridesmaids, you have a lot to answer for.

Sandra Bullock plays an uptight FBI agent, who is successful but disliked by all her male colleagues, for not being one of the guys. She’s uptight, self-absorbed and ambitious. She wants a promotion, but her boss sends her to Boston (from New York) to solve a drugs case. There she unwillingly teams up with Melissa McCarthy’s skanky full on cop who regards rules as an irrelevance, and putting on clean clothes as bad manners. Yes, they’re an Odd Couple.

And yes, this comes straight out of the box marked Beverly Hills Cop remake – with women. There are some bad guys who are smuggling drugs. There’s someone who’s double crossing the good guys. There are sneering drug barons who talk too much before they kill their victims – by which time it’s too late. In other words, there isn’t an ounce of originality in the story – except that the cops are women.

So then there are two questions. Is it funny? and Is it feminist? And are the two connected? Well, it’s not that funny. It’s amusing enough to not file it under Bad, but it’s less interesting than Bridesmaids, which at least had some kind of emotional core about friendship. The emotional thread here – if you can call it that – is that the uptight one will become less uptight, the fat one will become a little less offensive, and they will end up friends. Sure, they’ll have to go through a drinking session together, and share a few personal moments, but it’s only going one way, and that’s straight to Cliche City.

The humour mainly consists of Melissa McCarthy being rude (saying ‘fuck’ a lot, in other words), and Bullock loosening up her inhibitions; and the two of them putting one over on the men who make their lives difficult. Maybe that’s a kind of feminism, but I suspect not. They are simply acting in the way that men do – abuse, violence, boozing, loving their jobs – which to me doesn’t really amount to anything except Hollywood’s desire for cheap laughs and box office takings.

By all means go and see it, and even enjoy it. I can’t say I did, but it was better than root canal surgery.


Phil Raby

Front Row Films

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