There are many actor/director pairs out there that seem to have the ability to work together to create great films time and time again: Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, Martin Scorcese and Leonardo Dicaprio, Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder. After seeing The Heat last night, I am starting to believe that Melissa McCarthy and Paul Feig may be another one of those pairs.
The basic outline of this film is a pretty classic one. You have the straight edge, goody two shoe FBI agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) and then you have the fly by the seat of her pants, break all the rules, rough and tough cop Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy). Both Mullins and Ashburn have trouble getting along with their peers and their superiors, Ashburn because she is arrogant and has almost no social skills and Mullins because she refuses to follow orders and does whatever she wants. When Ashburn is sent to Boston to hunt down a Russian Mobster, Ashburn and Mullins are forced to work together to take the Mobster down.
As I said before, the general plot and amusement of this film is a pretty classic story. When the two women first meet, they immediately don’t get along and try to get in each other’s way. They finally, and begrudgingly, realize that they may be able to help one another to solve a case that they both want solved. Don’t get too mad at me for saying this; I am usually not a Sandra Bullock fan but she was absolutely hysterical in this film. The chemistry between Bullock and McCarthy was perfect, both women hitting every comical line in the script with ease and skill.
Beyond the two main characters, the film is filled with crazy characters and cameos. One of my favorite groups of side characters is Mullin’s insane family, including Michael Rapaport as one of her three brothers and Jane Curtin as her mother. Marlon Wayans plays the Boston FBI agent that was supposed to help Ashburn who slowly but surely became a love interest for the antisocial Ashburn.
This was one of the funniest films I have seen in theaters for months. The Heat is rated R and it is certainly rated R for a reason. The main reason that the film is rated R is due to language, most of which comes from McCarthy. The end of the film does have a surprising amount of violence in it as well. This was a B+ film for me. After seeing it I can not wait to see what Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy do next time they team up together.
This week Fox aired a new show staring Kevin Bacon called the Following. Premiering its first episode, the show looks like it is going to chronicle a deadly game of mental chess between a serial killer and the FBI agent who put him in jail. The premiere episode proves that the show has legs but it also is bordering some very dangerous territory with its use of violence.
The show begins with the main villain Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) escaping from jail, brutally murdering a roomful of guards and escaping without problem. Originally put in jail after a string of brutal murders by FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon), Carroll’s escape pulls a number of different important characters into the story. The first is Ryan Hardy who was taken out of the line of duty on disability when he first caught Carroll after beginning stabbed. Being an expert on Carroll, the serial killer’s escape pulls Hardy back into the line of duty.
Hardy is tasked to work with a number of different FBI agents, one being Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore), a young man who sees Hardy as a hero. Also contacted and protected after Carroll’s escape are two woman who were important to Carroll’s past, Claire Matthews and Dr. Sarah Fuller. Claire Matthews (Natalie Zea) is Carroll’s ex-wife, a woman that had no idea what kind of a person she married. After Hardy was eventually assigned to Carroll’s case, Claire and Ryan grew close and now she will only talk to him about her husband’s escape. Sarah Fuller (Maggie Grace) is the woman that Carroll was trying to kill when he got caught. Hardy believes that Carroll escaped to finish what he started, killing Sarah.
I found two things to be specifically intriguing about this pilot, the first being Joe Carroll’s obsession with Edgar Allen Poe. Prior to his killikng spree, Carroll was a professor of literature. Early on in his spree, it became clear that Carroll’s greatest influence was Edgar Allen Poe. He tore out of the eyes of his victims, copied some of the killings in Poe’s work and used references to Poe at many of his kill sites. Another aspect that showed promise for the rest of the show was the concept of the Following. When commercials played for the Following, they advertised that the show was going to be a battle of wits between a serial killer and an FBI agent, they did not advertise what the Following actually was. Carroll has some managed to amass a group of people that will do whatever he says, a following of serial killers that will help him. While it seemed like the show was going to be Ryan Hardy versus Joe Carroll, it will actually be Ryan Hardy versus an army, a following, of serial killers.
It is nearly impossible to make a true judgment on a show based on only the first episode. In fact, I have a rule that I give all television shows at least two episodes before I decide if they are bad. As far as the Following is concerned, I could see it going either way. The acting and the characters, as of right now, are kind of week but they all have a lot of room to develop and grow. There was no lack of violence in the first episode, in fact the show might actually have too much gruesome violence. It is something they are going to need to be careful of in the future. The show has plenty of room to move and grow and overall, seems like it is going to turn into a must watch television production.