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The Films of Paul Feig

Life Sold Separately

I Am David

Unaccompanied Minors

Bridesmaids (May 21/11)

Produced by Judd Apatow, Bridesmaids follows Kristen Wiig's Annie as she attempts to fulfill her maid of honor duties for Maya Rudolph's Lillian - with her ongoing efforts complicated by both a mean-spirited rival (Rose Byrne's Helen) and her own crumbling personal life. There's little doubt that Bridesmaids gets off to a wonderfully promising start, as filmmaker Paul Feig, working from Wiig and Annie Mumolo's screenplay, does a superb job of establishing the friendship between Wiig and Rudolph's respective characters - with the actors' palpable chemistry together ensuring that their scenes possess an easy authenticity that proves impossible to resist. It is, as a result, initially easy to overlook the rough-cut feel that's been hardwired into the proceedings, with Feig's decision to blanket the thin narrative with overlong and downright needless interludes inevitably wreaking havoc on the movie's tenuous momentum and ultimately diminishing the impact of the undeniably stellar performances. The inclusion of an almost eye-rollingly melodramatic stretch within the film's midsection exacerbates the progressively uninvolving atmosphere, and one finally can't shake the feeling that Bridesmaids would've been far, far better off had it been trimmed down to a more manageable running time.

out of

The Heat (August 10/13)

Paul Feig's follow-up to Bridesmaids, The Heat follows Sandra Bullock's straight-laced FBI agent Sarah Ashburn as she's forced to team up with a loose-cannon cop (Melissa McCarthy's Mullins) to solve a series of murders. There's little doubt that The Heat, for a little while, fares a whole lot better than Bridesmaids, as the movie, unlike that 2011 effort, does a much better job of integrating its improvisational elements into the (admittedly familiar) narrative - with the perfectly watchable atmosphere heightened by the palpable chemistry between the two central characters. (It's worth noting, too, that McCarthy, an actress whose presence generally works in very small doses only, never quite wears out her welcome.) Even in its early stages, however, The Heat suffers from a hit-and-miss feel that predictably wreaks havoc on its momentum - as Katie Dippold's screenplay has been packed with a number of sequences that are either overlong or flat-out needless. (There is, for example, a long sequence in a bar that just seems to go on forever.) It's not until the midway point that The Heat begins to seriously lose its grip on the viewer, with the progressively meandering atmosphere compounded by a plot that only grows more and more tedious as time progresses (ie the specifics of Ashburn and Mullin's case are so forgettable and hackneyed that one would be hard-pressed to recall their details mere moments after the credits have rolled). The degree to which the film subsequently peters out is nothing short of astonishing, and it certainly doesn't help that Feig places an increased emphasis on needless instances of melodrama as the story limps to its anticlimactic finale. It's ultimately clear that there's simply not enough plot to justify The Heat's absurdly overlong running time, with the relentless padding in the movie's second half emblematic of everything that's wrong with most contemporary comedies.

out of

© David Nusair