Let’s put aside the politics for a moment that accompanied the release of The Heat last month. Let’s put aside the fact that this is the only female fronted film to receive a wide release this summer. Let’s forget that if it had performed poorly, Hollywood would have used it for years as the shining example of why female fronted films don’t work, despite the fact that stars such as Will Smith, Johnny Depp, and Ryan Reynolds have all suffered massive box office failures this summer, and no one has blamed these failures on the fact that they are men. And let’s disregard the fact that after the supposedly game changing successes of Bridesmaids and The Help in 2011, only 28% of speaking roles in 2012’s 100 top grossing films went to women, the lowest percentage in five years. Let’s ignore all of that and just focus on The Heat as a film for a moment.
Written by Kate Dippold and directed by Paul Feig, The Heat is a buddy comedy about a straight-laced FBI agent, played by Sandra Bullock, who is forced to work with a foul mouthed and unorthodox detective in Boston, played by Melissa McCarthy, in order to bring down a drug kingpin. I saw this movie last night and I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard at a film. It’s raunchy, crude, absurd, utterly hysterical, and is the perfect example of how great the buddy comedy genre can be when done well. With a worldwide gross to date of $145 million on a $43 million dollar budget, The Heat is a hit, and in any other situation the story would end there, as just another hit summer comedy, were it not for the fact that the future of female driven summer blockbusters would appear to rest on its shoulders.
This situation is infuriating, and I could write long and passionately about the ridiculous double standards of Hollywood and how far we still have to go to achieve gender parity, but we’ve put all of that aside for this post so we can celebrate The Heat simply as a film. One of the funniest films to be released this year. A film that opened in less theatres than its main box office competitor, but made nearly $15 million more on its opening weekend. The lone female fronted film to open this summer that managed to wade through an ocean of testosterone to become a hit. Now that’s something to celebrate.