THE HEAT

Remember “Gracie Hart,” the adorable character Sandra Bullock played in MISS CONGENIALITY way back when?

Well a dozen years & one Oscar later, Bullock is remarkably the same & Melissa McCarthy makes a great partner.

Sweet, ditzy, thoroughly enjoyable screenplay by Katie Dippold, with a lot of the charm that director Paul Feig gave to BRIDESMAIDS– minus all the bathroom “humor.” (JLH: 4/5)

Click HERE to read our FF2 Haiku. Not yet seen by Rich.

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The Heat is a hoot! After years on TV, writer Katie Dippold has made the best big screen debut in ages. The Heat is a sweet, bubbly, frothy melange–a clever mix of genres that keeps right on going through hijinks and mayhem to a well-earned, misty-eyed conclusion.

The set-up is simple. “Ashburn” (Sandra Bullock) is an extremely intelligent, intuitive, and successful FBI agent based in New York. Those should all be good qualities, so why do her colleagues hate her so much? Could it be that almost all of them are male and Asburn, dedicated and hard-working though she is, is also an uptight, self-absorbed prig?

Ashburn feels she has earned a promotion and she wants it, but that puts her boss “Hale” (Demian Bichir) in a quandary. How can she lead men who refuse to follow? So Hale sends Ashburn off on an assignment in Boston with the promise that if she can convince the Boston police that she is a “team player,” then he just might approve the promotion.  But as soon as Ashburn arrives in Boston, she immediately tangles with streetwise street cop “Mullins” (Melissa McCarthy), and that’s when the fun begins.

On the most basic level, The Heat is something of a sequel to Miss Congeniality the very successful film Sandra Bullock released over a dozen years ago in 2000. For those who don’t remember, Miss Congeniality, written by Katie Ford, Marc Lawrence, & Caryn Lucas and directed by Donald Petrie, received a ton of nominations in 2001. Playing the adorable character “Gracie Hart,” Bullock herself received a Golden Globe nomination in the category “Best Performance by an Actress in a Comedy or Musical” and also won “Funniest Actress in a Leading Role” at the American Comedy Awards. According to Box Office Mojo, Miss Congeniality was also the first “Sandra Bullock film” to soar over the $100 Million mark. So in an era of franchise films about Batman, Iron Man, Superman, and all their friends , doing a Miss Congeniality sequel must have seemed like a darn good idea.

But “Gracie Hart” doesn’t have the name recognition of all those “tent pole” dudes plus the marketing folks wanted to make sure we all knew that The Heat was directed by the same person who directed Bridesmaids. And Bridesmaids was also the film that launched Melissa McCarthy from small screen to big screen, of course, so the marketing folks wanted to make sure we all knew that too. Please don’t worry if you never made the connection between then and now. You have to have the memory of an elephant, and luckily I do!

But why is it so important to me that you identify The Heat more with Miss Congeniality than with Bridesmaids? Simple: While I adored Miss Congeniality, regular readers know I was no big fan of Bridesmaids.

Therefore I am delighted to report that Paul Feig has omitted Bridesmaids‘ crude sex scenes and excessive bathroom “humor” this time around. And instead of using Melissa McCarthy’s girth as the occasion for fat jokes, Feig & Dippold actually make Mullins the sexy one who has a libido that drives men wild. Best yet, McCarthy has such a big heart in this film that her success attracting men makes total sense. And even though you only see her around the edges, casting Jane Curtain (the pretty but prissy one in the original Saturday Night Live cast) was a stroke of comic genius.

Bottom Line? The name “Judd Apatow” never appears anywhere in the credits and I say: Hooray! Go see The Heat just for the fun of it and you’ll be glad you did.

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Top Photo: Sandra Bullock as “Ashburn” arrives in Boston all buttoned up.

Bottom Photo: Then Melissa McCarthy as “Mullins” pulls her back down to earth.

Photo Credits: Gemma La Mana/Twentieth Century Fox

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