Although endless hilarity ensues during the new comedy The Heat, starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, the real laughs — and some nearly lethal incidents — took place off screen during the making of Paul Feig's film. We know McCarthy's a jokester all right, but who knew she had hands of a surgeon too? Well, she had no clue until she was forced to save her partner in crime's life. Mhm!
At the press conference in the adventurous laugher, McCarthy, who plays police officer Mullins, revealed a hilarious moment on set when her costar Bullock slammed her head face down on a bar and lodged a peanut up her nostril... strictly for comedic purposes, of course. Bullock specified, "Not just any peanut. A salted peanut!"
McCarthy chimed in on the fearsome moment: "So the danger factor went way up! And she put it so far up ... at one moment in the scene, I thought 'What's happening? I have something shoved up Sandy Bullock's nose!? Just don't hurt her!'"
The actress continued, "And then I thought [that] she didn't really do it. 'That's too weird and gross.' Because I was up [her nose] a good ways, and there was nothing. And then I saw something... it still makes me nervous to talk about because it was so insane, she could put it up like this far. Listen, she's got tricks!" But of course, the danger: "Then it got serious, because I thought, 'I gotta get that thing out of there!' And I don't know why I would think that's on me, medically, to do that. And then I really got in there."
Now that's a quality way to bond with a costar, and probably chemistry onscreen seems so real. Once you shove something up another actor's nose, a heartfelt kinship blossoms.
Bullock plays the straight-shooter FBI agent Ashburn, who she insists is nothing like the agent she first played in Miss Congeniality, besides the fact they both have a gun (for instance, Bullock has absolutely no facial hair this time around. Phew!) The Oscar-winning actress describes the bond that flourished between her and McCarthy joking: "It's like in a bar when you're drunk: you see the person, and you don't know why, but it just works, and everything goes in slow-motion. No, but the key is, we really just stay drunk the whole time."
Breakout comedic powerhouse McCarthy added some witty banter to the convo, jesting, "While drunk, we really, really enjoy each other. Sober? Not so much."
The Blind Side star Bullock then took on a more serious tone to share her appreciation for McCarthy: "Just to have that rhythm in comedy, we don't even have to look at each other, and it's like a ping-pong match. I don't know why it works. I think because our styles are different, but we compliment each other and watch out for each other."
"You're like, 'Well, she needs that moment,'" Bullock continued, "so you just sort of step back and let her hit it, and then you come back and try to make up and do something. It just was never combative, it just worked. It's just luck. If we could do more, it'd be nice. It's hard to find a partner."
So since these this badass duo works so well together in The Heat, can we expect to see them again for Round 2? After Melissa gushes, "If this whole group is together, if it's a play in a backyard, I'll go do it!" And then things get a little out of whack, as Sandra adds, "I think it should be a live sequel! Like we go country to country and just perform. I think it'd be amazing. House to house for extra dollars. The less clothing we have on, the more money we get." All jokes aside, that's one live show I would not want to miss.
Although the future of a sequel for The Heat is still up in the air, at least we have some additional appeal in this installment. Bullock spilled about her fondness for one particular costar: "Let me just say about Marlon [Wayans]," the actress began, "that whatever room Marlon walks into, I don't care if the woman is 12 or 85, he's an equal opportunity flirter. He flirts with every single female in the room. And as he walks by everyone's like, 'Oh my God!'"
Bullock continued, "Marlon is beautiful! Absolutely a beautiful specimen of man. If he only flirted with me, it would've been nice. But, nope! He flirted with everybody and we were so grateful he was there when we showed up. But God bless him!"
And don't worry, Melissa McCarthy gets her fair share of interested men in the film, too — including her real life husband, but she winds up totally dissing him! However, she absolutely loved having him on the set, revealing, "It was wonderful! Not because I dissed [him]. We met performing together, and it worked out, because then I married him. So anytime I get a chance to work with him is a delight for me. And he's really funny, so selfishly I thought, 'Come on!'"
Following its spiritual predecessor Bridesmaids, directed also by Paul Feig, The Heat marks a new era of females in comedy. McCarthy explained how she hopes the wild theory that women aren't funny can finally be squashed. With its hilarious jokes and outrageous scenarios, The Heat helps to launch women comics into the forefront of the genre, and truly establishes that funny is funny, regardless of gender.
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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.
What do you think? Tell Christian Blauvelt directly on Twitter @Ctblauvelt and read more of his reviews on Rotten Tomatoes!
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Riding on the success of Bridesmaids, director Paul Feig decided to keep his focus on showcasing the often underappreciated comic sensibilities of women, rounding up the hit comedy's breakout star Melissa McCarthy and big screen vet Sandra Bullock for his upcoming buddy cop flick The Heat. If a troop of hilarious women can reel in mad dollars as an incompetent wedding party, why not as a pair of off-kilter police officers?
I caught up with Feig, who has big plans for launching female comics into the forefront of the entertainment world — a plan he has carried out with Bridesmaids and his Lindsay-driven Freaks and Geeks. Feig explains that it was the appeal of affixing the traditionally male-focused police officer trope on two ladies that drew him into The Heat... that and the oddly compelling original billing for the film, "The Untitled Female Buddy Cop Comedy." Feig reveals, "I really wanted to keep that tone of comedy of having strong women in the lead roles. And I've always wanted to do an action comedy, so it was literally everything on my plate I wanted to do all in one."
By catapulting female comedic superstars onto the big screen, Feig aspires for "men to come away from it going, like, 'I'm not afraid of two women being funny.' And not fear[ing the fact] that seeing two women on a poster means that it's going to be a chick flick, quote unquote. These are just two very funny people and you're just going to laugh for almost two hours."
And it's true: The Heat is nowhere near a "chick flick." McCarthy's character blurts the f-bomb about 190 times in the movie, but Feig believes it's never really done in a grotesque or aggressive manner — it's just the way she expresses herself. In fact, Feig thinks its one of the funniest things if you can swear effectively. He even gushes that it's "a great pleasure that we got in a million f**ks and s**ts and everything else."
Inspired by 48 Hours and Beverly Hills Cop — Feig was a huge fan of Eddie Murphy's as a child — the director aims for The Heat to be a movie that stretches beyond comedy alone. With the objective to balance humor with Heart, Feig shares his work ethic, stating: "When you're first putting it together, you really look at it like it's a drama, and you really work out the story beats, [asking,] 'Dramatically, how does this work? What is the emotional journey these characters are on? Why do they care about each other? Why should we care about them?'"
Feig continues, "If you get that solid base working, then the comedy can just come out of it. You can find ways to do it in a funny way. That keeps you invested in the characters. If you're just going joke to joke and people are acting silly and the bad guys are kind of silly, then you're only as good as the jokes. And I think, as an audience, you get kind of bored, too. You really need to invest in the story."
But long before being the skilled craftsman of stories comedic and dramatic alike, Feig dipped his feet into the acting pool. Feig had "a pretty good 15-year run as a professional actor on a regular bunch of TV series that all got canceled." We might fondly recall his role on the beloved hit show Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, but Feig said being written off after the series' first season is actually what influenced him to finally go full-time behind the camera. Feig always dreamed of becoming a Woody Allen figure — writing, directing, and starring in his own films.
"As an actor, I always felt really limited to what I could do. I had things I was good at, but I'm not De Niro, or someone like that," says Feig. "I was always going to be, like, the charactor-actor guy, versus all these really amazingly talented people who I'm a fan of. If I can get them to work on something I'm putting together, and make them their best, I get way more juice out of that." But even though Feig is offscreen, he still dresses like a movie star — it's a laborious task to spot him not clad in suit and tie.
The famed director first crawled into the entertainment industry as the creator of the cult classic series Freaks and Geeks , with his renowned friend Judd Apatow as executive producer. Despite how he's buddy-buddy with Apatow, Feig neglected to let his This is 40 director compadre take a look at The Heat prior to its premiere. Feig confessed, "I almost didn't want him to see it. I'm afraid he's going to find something [negative], so I'm like, 'Ah... I don't want to hear it.' It's too late! But I think he'll like it."
Along the way of his ascension to Hollywood, Feig enlisted actor Ben Falcone to act in Unaccompained Minors. Falcone, Melissa McCarthy's husband, not only snagged the role alongside McCarthy in Bridesmaids, but also pops up in The Heat. He doesn't have the best of luck wooing his real life wife this time around. "We were like, we have to get Ben in there somewhere. I like the idea of going the opposite way [from Bridesmaids], where he gets rejected."
Unlike a plethora of comedies that put the storyline on the back burner, Feig aims to integrate an emotional toll into The Heat. "There needs to be a sadness mixed in among the happiness." But even in the midst of a dramatic, heart-wrenching scene with McCarthy's character, Mullins, Paul loves when there's "a big laugh in the middle of this very kind of heavy sad scene," and long as "it's very organic."
Well yes, The Heat truly reels in some big laughs. Yet, while the film triggers a serious case of giggles, little bits of hilarity that burst in serve a double purpose — expanding on the characters, Ashburn (Bullock) and Mullins, that screenwriter Katie Dippold brilliantly created.
Feig, who, surprisingly, was a childhood magician, believes that the hilarity that ensues isn't just shoved in for the sake of pure laughter. "This stuff comes organically out of the character, and that's what I like about it. Ashburn is so dedicated to her job, so she wouldn't have time to have a cat. But she uses the neighbors' cat. And just the fact that Melissa's character is so into her job and what's right and wrong that when she's faced with something that's not, she just lashes out at everybody... it feels very organic to me."
It is evident that a common trait throughout Feig's work is this ambiance of authenticity. Despite the tickling chaos and obscenity Feig brings to the screen, a sense of compassion and tenderness still weaves its way throughout his films. Even in the midst of The Heat, when the duo is spotted at a bar (drunk off their asses, with their noses scotch-tapped like their piggies), a feeling of warmth and camaraderie arises, which leaves audiences not only in hysterics but also with a dear appreciation for friendship.
The Heat brings the action into theatres June 28th.
Follow Cori on Twitter @gimmegimmeCORFollow Hollywood.com on Twitter @Hollywood_com
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The trailers for Hope Springs might lead you to believe it's a romantic comedy about a couple trying to jumpstart their sexless marriage but it causes more empathetic cringing than chuckles. Audiences will be drawn to Hope Springs by its stars Meryl Streep Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell and Streep's track record of pleasing summer movies like Julie & Julia and Mamma Mia! that offer a respite from the blockbusters flooding theaters. Despite what its marketing might have you believe Hope Springs isn't a rom-com. The film is a disarming mixture of deeply intimate confessions by a married couple in the sanctuary of a therapist's office awkwardly honest attempts by that couple to physically reconnect and incredibly sappy scenes underscored by intrusive music. Boldly addressing female desire especially in older women it's hard not to give the movie extra credit for what writer Vanessa Taylor's script is trying to convey and its rarity in mainstream film. The ebb and flow of intimacy and desire in a long-term relationship is what drives Hope Springs and while there are plenty contrived moments and unresolved issues it is frankly surprising and surprisingly frank. It's a summer release from a major studio with high caliber stars aimed squarely at the generally underserved 50+ audience addressing the even more taboo topic of that audience's sex life.
Streep plays Kay a suburban wife who's deeply unsatisfied emotionally and sexually by her marriage to Arnold. Arnold who is played by Tommy Lee Jones as his craggiest sleeps in a separate bedroom now that their kids have left the nest; he's like a stone cold robot emotionally and physically and Kay tiptoes around trying to make him happy even as he ignores her every gesture. One of the most striking scenes in the movie is at the very beginning when Kay primps and fusses over her modest sleepwear in the hopes of seducing her husband. Streep makes it obvious that this isn't an easy thing for Kay; it takes all her guts to try and wordlessly suggest sex to her husband and when she's shot down it hurts to watch. This isn't a one time disconnect between their libidos; this is an ongoing problem that leaves Kay feeling insecure and undesirable.
After a foray into the self-help section of her bookstore Kay finds a therapist who holds week-long intensive couples' therapy sessions in Good Hope Springs ME and in a seemingly unprecedented moment of decisiveness she books a trip for the couple. Arnold of course is having none of it but he eventually comes along for the ride. That doesn't mean he's up for answering any of Dr. Feld's questions though. To be fair Dr. Feld (Carell) is asking the couple deeply intimate questions so if Arnold is comfortable foisting his amorous wife off with the excuse he had pork for lunch it's not so far-fetched to believe he'd be angry when Feld asks him about his fantasy life or masturbation habits.
Although Arnold gets a pass on some of his issues Kay is forthright about why and how she's dissatisfied. When Dr. Feld asks her if she masturbates she says she doesn't because it makes her too sad. Kay offers similar revelations; she's willing to bare it all to revive her marriage while Arnold thinks the fact that they're married at all means they must be happy. Carell's Dr. Feld is soothing and kind (even a bit bland) but it's always a pleasure to see him play it straight.
It's subversive for a mega-watt star to play a character that talks about how sexually unsatisfied she is and how unsexy she feels with the man she loves most in the world. The added taboo of Kay and Arnold's age adds that much more to the conversation. Kay and Arnold's attempts at intimacy are emotionally raw and hard to watch. Even when things get funny they're mostly awkward funny not ha-ha funny.
The rest of the movie is a little uneven wrapped up tightly and happily by the end. Their time spent soul-searching alone is a little cheesy especially when Kay ends up in a local bar where she gets a little dizzy on white wine while dishing about her problems to the bartender (Elisabeth Shue). Somewhere along the line what probably started out as a character study ended up as a wobbly drama that pushes some boundaries but eventually lets everyone off the emotional hook in favor of a smoothed-over happy ending. Still its disarming moments and performances almost balance it out. Although its target audience might be dismayed to find it's not as light-hearted as it would seem Hope Springs offers up the opportunity for discussion about sexuality and aging at a time when books and films like 50 Shades of Grey and Magic Mike are perking up similar conversations. In the end that's a good thing.