So here’s what’s unfair. If THE HEAT does poorly, either critically or box office wise, it will inevitably be interpreted as evidence that female driven comedies don’t work. If it does well, we’ll all get to feast on article after article about how female comedies are here and what took so long and hurrah! hurrah! look, women can be funny. Which, I suppose, would be fine if this was the first female driven comedy to do well, but then, if you have any sort of memory at all, you’ll know it isn’t. In fact, if it does land, it will be at least the third movie in just over a decade to be treated as “the arrival of female comedy” (see also BRIDESMAIDS and THE SWEETEST THING). Either way, this movie has the responsibility of being the one movie that confirms or disproves the idea of funny women for years to come. What a glorious burden, I am sure.
The worse news…it doesn’t look very good. I mean, on paper, it looks very good. BRIDESMAIDS director Paul Feig and breakout star Melissa McCarthy, the now reliably funny Sandra Bullock, PARKS AND RECREATION writer Kaite Dippold first produced feature script…this are heartening signs. The trailers, however, are not. My hope is that someone just did a lousy job cutting this film. Kind of like how whoever made the trailers for ROCK OF AGES last year seemed incredibly made at that movie. Regardless of how you felt about AGES, you have to admit those trailers seem to aggressively strive to make the movie as unappealing as possible.
On the positive side, there are heavy rumors that THE HEAT 2 is already being solidified so that’s a strong show of confidence.
I realize that this is like the fourth of these in the past five where my assessment of the movie boils down to “man, I hope this works out,” but it is just that kind of summer I guess.
Onto the prep films!
There is one big problem with this movie. They made it a romantic comedy. The romantic subplot doesn't help or advance the film in any way that I’m not convinced couldn’t have been in a different way, with a lot less heavy lifting plot-wise. Chris O’Dowd good as Kristen Wiig’s “finally, a decent guy,” but it definitely feels added on, something made all the more clear by that plot’s resolution whne he just shows up at the end, all the problems forgiven.
Additionally, what really works is the exploration of friendships and how time and events can play havoc when even those that seem to be reliably strong and long lasting. Having Wiig also have to land herself a new fella—instead just ditching the jerk and reattaining her best friend—distracts from that in a way that I did find worth the divergence.
McCarthy, I must say, is pretty great. She hums with a bizarre sort of energy that seems (intentionally on the part of the filmmakers) out of step with the people and world around here. She is delightfully resistant to stereotype, tomboyish to the extreme but very straight, heavy but nary an easy fat joke to be reached for, terrible social skills but a good friend with surprising insights to offer. There’s good reason she tore out of this movie in a big way.
Every now and again I’ll take stock of the film industry and wonder to myself, “Why are there so many lousy romantic comedies?” and then, perhaps, conclude it has become simply an unworkable genre.
But then I remember that THE PROPOSAL is fairly recent and that there really is no excuse for the seemingly unending tone deafness, lack of chemistry, and genericism that seems to sink most movies in the genre.
Plotwise, PROPOSAL is nothing special. Boss and underling don’t get along at all. Boss is terrible, underling is trapped. A reversal of fortune occurs and boss must pretend that she and her underling are romantically involved. They jump through hopes to maintain the charade, fall in love for real. Circumstances out their fake love even though there is real love now. Things look dire. Giant romantic gesture saves the day. Cue credits.
However, the chemistry between national Canadian treasure Ryan Reynolds and one of several of America’s Sweethearts (America=Womanizer) Sandra Bullock makes it all work. The plot may not be great shakes, but good jokes in the mouths of attractive people who are able to act well with both the script and against one another still a good movie make. A supporting cast that includes Craig T. Nelson, Mary Steenburgen, and the pretty much everywhere Betty White certainly help as well. Recommended.
Oh, and this one had a not very good trailer either, so, you just never know.