On paper, The Heat can't be more formulaic. Sandra Bullock's prim, pantsuit-wearing FBI agent Sarah Ashburn has to team with Melissa McCarthy's unkempt, unruly beat cop Shannon Mullins to take down a Boston drug lord and earn that coveted promotion. Both characters could easily have been clichés: Bullock's Ashburn is about as "by the book" as it gets, McCarthy's "But I Get Results!" Mullins literally throws a book at a suspect in an interrogation. It shows what feisty, textured performances Bullock and McCarthy give — and what seasoned direction Bridesmaids' Paul Feig delivers — that, at all times watching The Heat, you buy them as real people and not buddy-cop movie archetypes.
The Heat isn't just Starsky & Hutch minus Y-Chromosomes. Bullock and McCarthy are allowed to be just women, not women self-consciously playing male roles. Bullock's Ashburn works hard but lives alone, with only the Matrix Reloaded on cable and a neighbor's Tabby cat for company. McCarthy's Mullins lives in a Beantown tenement next door to some of her perps, and keeps an arsenal of guns, ammo, rocket launchers, and grenades in her refrigerator... just in case. They crash into each other when they're forced to work together, with Mullins asking Ashburn to publicly beg for her help, and do so loudly enough that there's an echo.
But Feig, and writer Katie Dippold, who has cut her comedic teeth on Parks & Recreation, do something smart: they quickly push the personality-clash to the background and throw these two pros into taut, suspenseful, sometimes outright brutal action storytelling. From the opening credits — done like a '70s exploitation movie with splashes of yellow and orange — you know that The Heat is going to be a thumbscrew-turning actioner about professionalism and revenge. Well, mostly revenge. There are shoot-outs, car chases, warehouse raids, and undercover detective work, all hurtling toward a finale in which there are real stakes: Mullins' family is targeted for assassination due to her efforts in rounding up the drug ring. One scene in which a perp tortures Ashburn with knife feels like something out of Reservoir Dogs. It's a brutality that gives heft to more light-hearted scenes, like when Mullins strips down Ashburn so she can go undercover at a rave and discovers her wearing Spanx.
As he did in Bridesmaids, Feig shows that women are capable of getting as down-and-dirty and partying as hard as any dudes, during an all-night bender in which the two cops drown their sorrows in epic amounts of alcohol. Not once during any of this are Ashburn and Mullins hung up on a guy — though men are hung up on them — and the pursuit of romance almost never comes into the story, which in its own way is quietly revolutionary. The Heat shows that sometimes you need to embrace certain clichés in order to obliterate others.
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Sony Pictures just picked up a new project: a dark retelling of the classic Little Mermaid tale.
Let's start with the basics. We know The Little Mermaid as a cutesy little story about a young mermaid princess who makes a deal with the sea witch so that she can marry her prince on land. Right? Well, in this new version, based on the book Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale by Carolyn Turgeon, the mermaid isn't the only lady we're worried about. This new tale finds two women vying for the same man, but instead of one being the enemy and one being the adorable Disney princess, they've both got sympathetic back stories. One is a princess from a war-ravaged country who undertakes a dangerous journey to find and marry the prince of her country's rival kingdom, but there's something in the way. A mermaid also fell for the prince and, like in the Disney movie, she's sacrificed everything to be with him. There's no easy side in this twisted re-imagining of the classic story (though it does bear a little more resemblance to the Hans Christian Andersen version that the Disney one did).
This project has the potential, if handled correctly, to be a deliciously twisted film. The folks behind it are the ones who brought us Country Strong: writer and director Shana Feste and producers Tobey Maguire and Jenno Topping. This is about a million miles from something like Country Strong and Feste has only a few projects under her belt, so it's a little tough to call this one. She's fairly new to the game and this is a real opportunity to show what she's capable of and maybe, just maybe, she'll serve up a delightful surprise.
The show, which features songs from artists including Bon Jovi, Twisted Sister and Poison, is set for a cinematic make-over with Tom Cruise in talks to join the project.
Paltrow has now revealed she's also considering signing up, after proving her musical prowess in new movie Country Strong.
She tells EW.com, "It sounds cool. I just got the script and I will read it on the plane home tomorrow. But it sounds like it could be fun."
Alec Baldwin is also reportedly in negotiations to join the cast, while producer Jenno Topping remains hopeful that Tom Cruise will make his involvement official: "(He is) in discussions. It's real. Although, it is not cemented."