The new Sandra Bullock/Melissa McCarthy movie “The Heat” debuted in theaters this weekend, and killed it at the box office, despite getting so-so reviews from critics. I have no idea what those guys are talking about. This movie is funny. So funny. McCarthy and Bullock star as a cop and FBI agent, respectively, tracking a murderous drug kingpin. But the plot is almost beside the point, because really, this is about two strong personalities that grate against each other but have to settle their differences to solve a crime. Okay, that’s making it sound terrible, but it’s so worth seeing. Here’s why!
1. Melissa McCarthy, Melissa McCarthy, Melissa McCarthy: Melissa McCarthy is maybe the funniest comedienne in movies right now. She plays Mullins, a Boston cop with a raucous Irish-Catholic family. She is everything. At one point she tells Sandra Bullock’s character that she needs to air her vagina out because she can feel the heat from two feet away. She has some deeply vulgar, hilarious lines, and you get the sense that McCarthy is ad-libbing half the best jokes in the movie.
2. The Cameos: Kaitlin Olsen, who plays Sweet Dee on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” is in this movie! So is Jane Curtain. Also, YouTube star Spoken Reasons. And Chris Gethard.
3. It’s awesome to see women making totally raunchy, gross, profane jokes. Just like “Bridesmaids,” “The Heat” has a lot of pretty gross physical comedy and dirty jokes — stuff you don’t usually see women do in movies. These women make the jokes, and sure, they’re sometimes the subject of those jokes, but in the end, they retain control of the story and their own subjectivity. McCarthy’s Mullins is a bad ass who is perceived as tough, skilled and hot, while Sandra Bullock’s Sarah Ashburn is also tops in her field (and a bit of a socially awkward weirdo).
4. It’s got a pretty major thread about lady empowerment. First off, just getting a movie made where women play something more than eye candy or jealous girlfriends is pretty impressive. On top of that, “The Heat” is a film about two women learning how to work together, not tear each other apart. Even if you can’t get down with crass humor, I think most women can appreciate the sisterhood theme.
5. It’s actually written by a really funny woman. Kate Dippold has written for ”Parks and Recreation” and “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.” She also has the sole writing credit on this film — and that’s good news for all of us. It may seem silly to attach the future of the film biz to a clearly non-serious film, but it’s a win for women that a film written by and starring women was even made. Studies show that female screenwriters get way fewer screenplays made into films than male screenwriters. And overall, according to Women’s Media Center statistics, women make up less than 20 percent of behind-the-scenes players in film. Without women writing films and working on them, the industry will continue to produce the same kinds of movies over and over again. There’ll be fewer opportunities for women writers, directors and actors, and a truncated variety of representation. If “The Heat” is successful — and by the looks of it, it is, as a sequel is already rumored to be in the works — it helps pave the way for genres to open up, for more women to find spaces in the industry, and for a broader scope of female roles to appear on screen at your local multiplex.