WTF did they do to Melissa?!

WTF did they do to Melissa?!

I read the reviews of The Heat on Rotten Tomatoes before I saw it in theatres. I have a love hate thing with that website. We tend to disagree and yet, I always end up crawling back to its pages to get a general feel for how a movie is received. I am currently disappointed with the statements made about The Heat.

When I heard that there was going to be a female buddy-cop movie, I got excited. The trailer made me a little less excited, but I knew that I had to see it for myself. Mostly I thought it was important seeing as how this blog is about women in Hollywood.

I will tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed the film. It was hilarious, and unlike a few of the RT reviewers, I laughed a lot. I do have a very juvenile sense of humor, so maybe that’s why. Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarty have amazing chemistry in the scenes they did together, but they also manage to be their own entities.

Some critics said it was reliable. Another, “It’s not really such a great achievement to have women cops in the movies acting as boorish and rowdy as their male counterparts.”.

My response? Do you realize how many dang films that come out every year have the same exact story?! The fact that the “buddy-cop” formula is a thing makes this kind of obvious. Of course they were following a blueprint, because it has done so well in the past.

I am still perplexed at the fact that many of the reviewers didn’t find the movie funny. I laughed my ass off, as did many of the people around me in the theatre. Can I go as far to say that the reviewers didn’t find the movie funny because it was women cracking the jokes, saying fuck and chasing down perps? I may be stretching it a bit, looking for misogyny where there isn’t any, but I just find it interesting.

Joss Whedon recently said in an interview that Hollywood only gave female superhero movies two chances (I am assuming with Elektra and Catwoman?) and because they struck out, are apprehensive to try again. And yet, how many male led superhero movies have failed, and how many are coming out this summer alone. The same could be said of The Heat. This female buddy-cop formula has not been tested so there is nothing to compare it to and not enough data to say that women don’t work in this role.

Going back to the “achievement”, or lack thereof, according to the reviewer I quoted above; I wasn’t exactly expecting all women’s issues to go away with the release of this film. That would be ridiculous. What is great though, is that it got made at all. We need more movies like this in order to show a larger  range of female characters because there are so few interesting roles in Hollywood for women outside of the wife or girlfriend.

A few things worth noting about the contents of the film were the lack of female characters. Yes, there were obviously two female leads, but they were the ONLY women with more than  a few lines of dialogue. If this was on purpose, I feel as though the filmmaker needed to make it more obvious. Perhaps a quip about the lack of a woman’s washrooms or a wide camera shot that made it seem as though they were out of place (which of these are not like the other?…) I would have settled for McCarthy’s potty mouthed character to have made a comment about a sausage fest.


Examining McCarthy and Bullocks’ characters, they were both lone wolves within their departments. Bullocks character was competitive, a show off and a know it all, something a lot of male characters tend to be. And yet these personality traits saw her alienated instead of high-fived.  McCarthy’s character had a mouth like a trucker, extremely aggressive and was stubborn. Again, traditionally masculine traits. She was avoided by her colleagues as well who seemed to fear her. These two characters, the bull headed loud mouth and the uptight know-it-all have been seen in many a film. But this time, they had vagina’s.

Maybe these reviewers thought that these characters should be demonstrating more feminine characteristics such as acting like delicate little flowers who did what they were told while keeping their thoughts to themselves. Again, I could be nitpicking for sexism, but its food for thought.

The poster for the film has certainly had its own share of comments. The studio decided to photoshop McCarty’s face, removing quite a bit of her flesh to make her seem thinner. I was utterly perplexed by this. People know what she looks like. Its not a surprise that she is not the average Hollywood actress.

The Heat is just a really great movie that seems to have a lot riding on its shoulders. Yes, the story follows one similar to its predecessors: the two opposing characters end up bonding over their similar experiences and end up saving the day. But, it was still hilarious. Hopefully Hollywood won’t see this movie as a failure but instead, a great starting point.


About Mighty Damsels

I am a sick and tired nerd. Male characters have dominated the action/sci-fi/fantasy genres for far too long. No more will women be in distress, cast as the "girlfriend" or made to wear tight leather pants. Ladies! Raise up your swords, M16's, phaser guns and pens!

3 responses »

  1. Didion says:

    What an awesome piece. Thank you! I hadn’t planned on seeing the film but I’ve changed my mind — well, your piece and my great neighbor, who said she laughed really hard through the entire thing.

    I’m thinking of writing something more about how critics have given short shrift to the very few female-oriented films this summer … if so, I’ll be sure to give you a shout-out, because you started me down this path.

  2. […] Molly McCarthy), but its remarkable staying power in the theaters and a great essay entitled “The Heat: Not Enough Peen for Critics” over at Mighty Damsels. Also the new film The To-Do List. More soon on that […]

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