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Uptight FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) and foul-mouthed Boston cop Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) couldn't be more incompatible. But, when they join forces to bring down a ruthless drug lord, they become the last thing anyone expected...buddies. (From Fox’s official synopsis)

 Heat, The
The Heat is not the type of movie that normally seek out, but Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids was a nice respite from years of mediocre Judd Apatow productions and offshoots. I never loved Apatow’s movies in the first place (after 40 Year Old Virgin it was a tragic case of diminished returns), so my reaction to Feig’s film, co-written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig, was less excitement that these movies had returned to form and more of a relief that they’d finally gotten the formula right. Bridesmaids was such a pleasant experience that I was compelled to see what else Feig could do without the support of Apatow or Wiig. The Heat shares many things with Bridesmaids, but the most obvious one is the theme of playing a traditionally male-centric storylines with female leads. Sadly, this defines Katie Dippold’s script to the point that it’s entirely too predictable and spoofish. It follows the Shane Black buddy cop formula from beat to beat – the odd couple is introduced, they hate each other, they’re forced to work together, none of their superiors have faith in them, they bond via montage, they take on the bad guys against orders, and they’re even tied down and tortured towards the end of the film. With a stronger and more original plot, The Heat could’ve been something truly special – as is, it works just fine as a play on genre conventions, which is probably enough.

Dippold, who also writes for the similarly quirky and female-led Parks and Recreation, isn’t too interested in intricate plotting, but is quite good at setting up funny improvisational situations for Feig and the actors to play with. As a series of comedic vignettes, The Heat is funny and endearing in a very Bridesmaids-meets- Parks and Rec fashion. I was especially fond of the aforementioned torture scene, where events begin to spiral out of control without losing laughs or the over-riding sense of danger. Feig can’t quite walk the thin line between light-hearted and serious jeopardy as well as say, Edgar Wright, but he finds an appealing tone and includes some unexpectedly bloody violence (though nothing as graphic as Wright’s Hot Fuzz). Still, despite the more simplified narrative, a reduced leading cast size, and a more action-based theme, The Heat never matches the energy Feig tapped with Bridesmaids. The whole film is kind of sluggish and unnecessarily mellow. I understand this was likely a conscious stylistic choice that simply didn’t gel with my tastes, but also think that it really slows the pace of an already overlong film. For this review, I watched the extended cut, which is about three minutes longer than the theatrical cut. I imagine that even shorn of thirty minutes, The Heat might still feel too long. Such is the case with most of these improv-heavy, post-Apatow comedies.

 Heat, The
The cast is overrun with talent, but Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy sitting clearly at the center of the pool. It has taken me, personally, a long time to understand Bullock’s appeal. I found her performances sweet, but bland. It wasn’t her Oscar-baiting dramatic roles that finally brought me around, but a forced viewing of The Proposal -– an entirely mediocre, lightweight comedy that gave her a chance to flex her muscles as a put-upon straight (wo)man. Her role in The Heat is similar to that one and calls upon the same deadpan/awkward talents. McCarthy plays the Costello to Bullock’s Abbot and, like Bullock, her particular talents have been stretched thin in the years since she ‘broke’ as a major star. Her bit was very funny in Bridesmaids, but a little of that goes a long way. Detective Mullins is a version of that same Bridesmaids character with enough variations to work in a leading capacity. Bullock and McCarthy work well enough together to smooth their development from rivals to friends with unexpected subtlety. The most impressive thing about their performances is that they manage to be charming, despite being introduced as relatively despicable people, especially McCarthy, whose only character trait for the first 15-20 minutes is that she’s aggressively cruel to everyone around her.

 Heat, The

Video


The Heat was shot on 35mm and is presented on 1080p, 2.40:1 HD video. Feig and cinematographer Robert Yeoman don’t seem to be aping any particular film or filmmaking style, outside of the ‘70s-tastic opening credits. The base look is surprisingly dark with a pleasant glow and soft details – similar to the work Yeoman has done with Wes Anderson over the years. The lack of harsh contrast and even focus practices don’t lead to the sharpest overall details, but there aren’t any issues with fuzzy textures or flat overall depth of field. I’m assuming Yeoman opted for chemical processes, but the colours are pure and consistent enough that they appear to have been digitally graded. The palette is flecked with a lot of brick reds, teal backdrops, warm flesh tones, poppy yellows, and incredibly lush greens, none of which bleed or bloom into each other or the deep blacks. Some of the softer backgrounds feature some minor blocking and banding effects, but film-based artefacts, like grain and edge haloes, are not a problem.

 Heat, The

Audio


This Blu-ray features an uncompressed DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack and it’s about as lively as you’d expect from a modest action comedy. The majority of the mix is dialogue-based with basic ambience and these pieces are largely centered. Mike Andrews’ soul-infused original score and the pop music additions are the mix’s key elements in terms of stereo and surround augmentations. This material is spread widely and warmly over the channels, including some punchy LFE enhancement. Other multi-channel enhancements are most reserved to incidental crowd/street noise, but there are some low-impact car chases and shoot-outs that will give your system a minor exercise. The most aggressive sequence in terms of overall aural performance is the bit where Bullock dances with a suspect in an effort to lift his phone. The music (Palement’s ‘Flash Light’) throbs as McCarthy scurries around the stereo speakers grabbing other dancers and shouting advice at Bullock.

 Heat, The

Extras


This Blu-ray comes fitted with a myriad of extras, including not one, not two, but five commentary tracks. Some might call that excessive. For those interested in sampling all five, the participants include:
  • Paul Feig solo (unrated version) – A standard issue director’s commentary, where Feig drops the on-screen persona he takes on for most of the disc’s extras and talks shop. This is a full-bodied, fact-filled track.
  • Feig, writer Katie Dippold, and actors Mike McDonald, Adam Ray, and Melissa McCarthy (theatrical version) – A typically wacky group track, though there’s quite a bit of information that doesn’t overlap with the director’s commentary.
  • The ‘Mullins Family’ track (theatrical version) – Another group commentary with Feig and the Mullins family actors, speaking in character.
  • Audio from the June 23rd, 2013 Ziegfeld Theater premiere (theatrical version)
  • The original Mystery Science Theater 3000 cast track (theatrical version) – A spoof track featuring the guys from MST3K (I’m assuming Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, and Josh Weinstein, based on the use of the word ‘original’) doing their thing.
      The rest of the extras are as follows:[list]
    • Welcome to the Bonus Features! (00:30, HD) – A brief intro with director Feig.
    • Mullins Family Fun (9:20, HD) – Outtakes featuring the actors that play McCarthy’s family members.
    • Acting Master Class (8:30, HD) – Bullock and McCarthy’s barroom outtakes.
    • Let’s Get Physical (6:30, HD) – Slapstick bloopers.
    • Police Brutality[/h] (6:40, HD) – McCarthy’s insult-related outtakes.
    • [I]Von Bloopers (15:40, HD) – Bloopers without a specific theme.
    • Supporting Cast Cavalcade (7:40, HD) – More outtakes, all done by supporting cast members.
    • Over and Out (00:40, HD) – An outro with Feig.
    • All the Stuff We Had to Take Out but Still Think is Funny:[list]
    • Deleted scenes (10:10, HD)
    • Extended scenes (14:50, HD)
    • Alternate scenes (3:40, HD)
  • How the Heat Was Made (19:40) – A behind-the-scenes featurette including footage from the set and interviews with Feig, Dippold, production designer Jefferson Sage, and actors Bullock, McCarthy, Tony Hale, Jessica Chaffin, Jane Curtin, Bill Burr, Spoken Reasons, and Michael McDonald.
  • Trailers


 Heat, The

Overall


The Heat didn’t entirely overcome my limited expectations, but, lethargic tone and overlong runtime aside, it’s a very sweet and occasionally hilarious feminization of the consistently male-centric buddy cop genre. I hope that its success at the box office leads to more crime flicks starring funny chicks. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a Maria Bamford/Amy Sedaris team-up, myself. Fox’s Blu-ray looks and sounds just fine and features a pile of extras, including five commentary tracks and over an hour of deleted footage/outtakes.

 Heat, The
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.


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