Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock Bring “The Heat” Back to the Buddy Cop Genre

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My dear friend, co-conspirator, -blogger, and all around initiator of great ideas, D3Z, mentioned over dinner that she wanted to see the new comedy by the creators of Bridesmaids called The Heat. True to form, I had a moment of reluctance. Apparent to many of those close to me, this moment is my customary exhibition of what I like to refer to as “Resistance to Awesome.” To paraphrase what I was thinking in my moment of hesitation while watching the trailer: “Well… I
don’t usually like to laugh or have a good time at the movies. I may have really liked Bridesmaids and I may have only been waiting my WHOLE LIFE for a well-done buddy cop movie starring two strong female characters but…. I surely won’t like this obviously good time, right?!” Like I said, that was a bit paraphrased. All I have to say now is thank goodness I have friends with better instincts than my own or I’d never do anything worthwhile.

If I tell you The Heat is a buddy cop comedy brought to you by the director of Bridesmaids Paul Feig, written by the up and coming female writer Kate Dippold starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, I’ve pretty much told every child of the ’80s what they need to know to put a movie ticket and a box of overpriced popcorn in their hands. The Heat has gotten a lot of attention for gender bending the rules of the buddy cop genre and rightfully so. But what I really want to know is “What the Hell Took So Long?!!!”

It is the first buddy cop movie featuring two female leads I can think of. There is precedence on the small screen dating back to Cagney and Lacey and maybe Charlie’s Angels. Recently in comics, an all female teams has been coming into its own in Brian Wood’s The X-men and the team-up and friendship between Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) and SpiderWoman (Jessica Drew) has been growing in popularity but even it is mostly within the context of The Avengers. Many female teams in popular literature, Nancy, Bess and Georg(ia), The Friday Society, The Finishing School are all well done but often restricted to young adult fiction.

One trope that we get to see a lot in buddy cop fiction is the “I would die for my law enforcement partner/queen/country/career/American Way” dynamic. Examples are rampant in Hot Fuzz, James Bond, my husband’s Warhammer Novels, and cowboy fiction. We also definitely get this in The Heat, no problem. However I don’t often find this quality in traditionally female literature. More often the female protagonist is fighting to save her love interest, child, or family in general, no doubt highly worthy motivators but this exclusivity is suggestive of a more worrisome disturbance in the female force. It’s almost if women are blatantly viewed, even in their own fiction, as people who, after puberty, can’t form the same bonds men do in bromances with other adult women. If that’s the case, it’s really really lame and disappointing and I for one would like to see this trend bucked further in the future.

Finally, one obvious reason we haven’t previously gender bent the buddy cop genre is ridiculously simple: Hollywood doesn’t like to mess with moneymaking formulas. They do not believe women (or men) are willing to pay to see strong female characters not driven by family or romance in an action setting on the big screen. While it pains me to tell you to continue feeding money to a broken machine, the best advice I can give on how to generate more movies like this one is to go, pay the money, eat the overpriced popcorn. But then come home and open the dialogue. Tell them with money and buzz what we want to see. And don’t forget to let me know in the comments what you thought and to recommend any movies, books, or graphic novels that contradict my sweeping generalization of women’s lit because I would love to be more wrong than I think I am.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. CMrok93
    Jul 06, 2013 @ 18:32:37

    Good review. I had a good time because I laughed. That’s all I needed to do to have fun and that’s exactly what happened.

    Reply

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