admits that she's seen "Lethal Weapon about 2000 times," and that's exactly how The Heat views, as the 2000th derivation of a police procedural occasionally freshened up by Melissa McCarthy's ability to riff on a joke to make it funny (Feig was smart to let his comediennes improvise on their lines in Bridesmaids, too). But Bridesmaids was busy reinventing the romantic comedy whereas The Heat comes across as so programmatic, so slavish to the conventions of the genre, and so forced that whatever humor the two leads generate tends to get neutered by the movie's hoary predictability.
2) The filmmakers take a male buddy-cop genre and put its traditional body-oriented crude verbal humor in the mouths of women, especially McCarthy. They think they'll obtain a cross-over audience that way (and they might have), but the comediennes can seem falsified and unnatural as much as we are invited to think of them as empowered. Shannon comments on the tininess of her police captain's balls when she isn't cursing or threatening to shoot men in the crotch. To be fair, at times, the comediennes appropriate female anatomy into the crude humor in unexpected ways. At one point, McCarthy says "You just brushed against my aureole" (I guess as a reference to a scene in This Is 40?). At another time, she jokes about being able to see Ashburn's "cervix." When Shannon makes a crack to a passing former lover about Ashburn's "dirty attic with some old Christmas lights" and other scattered junk, Ashburn replies by telling the guy that Mullins is "misrepresenting my vagina."
3) The Heat tries very hard to be about Boston (as if Dippold wants to remake Ben Affleck's The Town as a comedy), but many of the local effects seem tossed off and derivative. For example, Shannon's working class Irish family appears to have wandered in from David O. Russell's The Fighter, complete with tacky black velvet paintings of Jesus playing hockey, baseball, and basketball. Ashburn has difficulty understanding one of them when he asks "Are you a narc?" because with his Boston accent, it sounds like "knock."
4) They say that humor is hardest to create, and in this movie the effort shows. Bullock deserves credit for being willing to look silly. She blows a peanut out of her nose and dances drunkenly around in her bra. She likens acting with Melissa to "working with a rabid cat," but McCarthy's aggressive persona can seem coarsened as she throws a phone book at a perp's head, insults an albino, and assaults a john for making a crack about his wife's "messy vagina." I understand and applaud the need to persuade Hollywood to make more female-centric comedies, but it seems like blackmail to be obliged to defend this one.
Jacques Rivette (1928-2016) - *Written for the May 2016 Artforum. — J.R.* [image: jaques-rivette] Although Jacques Rivette was the first of the *Cahiers du Cinéma* critics to embark ...
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