Rating: R (pervasive language, strong crude content, and some violence)
Length: 117 minutes
Release Date: June 28, 2013
Directed by: Paul Feig
Stars: 3 out of 5
While many people may view “The Heat” (trailer here) as just another chick flick, in fact this film contains numerous action scenes and multiple expletives throughout. The two leads, Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, team up to deliver a performance that is sure to have movie audiences laughing the whole time. The chemistry displayed between the pair would lead many to believe that Bullock and McCarthy have been friends for years, but in fact the two of them only met for the first time on the opening day of filming. What separates “The Heat” from many other films to be released this summer is that this movie is the only one with two female leads.
The script for “The Heat” came from Katie Dippold, who is also a screenwriter for the comedy series “Parks and Recreation.” Dippold always had a love for buddy-cop movies while growing up, but she wanted to try something new by having female characters fill the main two roles. After loosely sketching out a script, Dippold sent the screenplay off to the film studio and was given plenty of positive feedback. The original script did not have a name, so it was given the unofficial title of “The Untitled Female Buddy Cop Comedy.” Studio bosses liked the idea so much that they sounded out Paul Feig, director of “Bridesmaids.” It was initially uncertain whether Feig would want to direct another female comedy so soon, but he was sold on the idea almost instantly. After Dippold and Feig met over lunch to discuss a few minor details, the pair agreed to move forward very quickly.
With the script bought by film producers in March 2012 and production set for June of the same year, there was not much time to put together a cast. Sandra Bullock was almost immediately pursued to play the role of Sarah Ashburn, a bright FBI agent who cannot seem to get along with any of her co-workers. No one was initially cast for the role of Shannon Mullins, a Boston cop who has trouble controlling her language, but Feig thought of McCarthy after reading through the final script. He thought that McCarthy’s type of humor would be a great fit for Bullock’s strong-woman role.
However, although Feig wanted Melissa McCarthy to play the role of Detective Mullins, scheduling conflicts meant this looked very unlikely to come to fruition. At the time McCarthy was offered the role, she was already in Atlanta shooting for “Identity Thief.” To further compound the problem, McCarthy was expected to return to the set of “Mike & Molly” to begin filming episodes for the upcoming season. However, McCarthy was determined to make it happen, so she agreed to sign on. A short time after that, Feig and Bullock traveled to Atlanta to rehearse the script, and Bullock and McCarthy clicked the moment they began reading lines. Pre-production began not long after, and McCarthy put in some long hours to make everything work. At one point McCarthy was on set for “The Heat” at weekends and flying back to Los Angeles during the week to film for “Mike & Molly.”
The chemistry that Sandra Bullock and McCarthy have on screen really gives the film momentum to carry it for the whole duration. While filming, Bullock was sometimes taken aback when McCarthy would divert from the script. Director Feig kept McCarthy’s lines very flexible in order to allow her to improvise.
One surprising element to this film is that both lead characters are female and over the age of forty. Typically, Hollywood has tended to shy away from giving lead character roles to women who are seen by some as past their prime, but “The Heat” may go some way to dispelling that notion.
“The Heat” was initially supposed to be released at the beginning of April, but it was pushed back to late June by the film studios. While this may be viewed as a risky move, considering the plethora of top quality films that typically come out during the summer, it shows that much is expected of this film, and it would not be a surprise to see it do very well at the box office. Considering that Bullock has not acted in a box office hit in years, this film could give her career the boost it desperately needs. For McCarthy, a strong performance at the box office would give her acting career another lift, and it may open up some more high profile lead acting roles over the next twelve months.