As usual, there are quite a few dude-centric flicks coming this summer — from Iron Man to Man of Steel to This Is The End, Lone Ranger and Wolverine. (Not to mention The Internship, World War Z, White House Down, Pacific Rim, Grown-Ups 2, 2 Guns.) And although two women — Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy — star in The Heat, the studio is hoping the film reads as gender-neutral.
As Alexandra Cheney writes for the Wall Street Journal:
One of the film's largest hurdles is to attract both men and women. Fox is positioning "The Heat" as an action-laden buddy comedy, and regard the movie as "gender neutral," according to Daria Cercek, Fox's vice president of production who oversaw the film.
Also to generate buzz, two of "The Heat's" male stars, Marlon Wayans and Michael Rapaport, appeared on ESPN2's show "Nation at Night" last week to promote the film closer to its June 28 release.
Oh boy. It's probably true that if you market the movie to women alone, men will think it's not for them. That's the kind of atmosphere we live in: Girly stuff is for ladies, and creative efforts can get pigeon-holed, branded a "chick flick" or "chick lit." But since we live in a patriarchy, and male-oriented is the default, men and women are both expected to go to male-lead superhero movies, and enjoy male-character-driven franchises like The Hangover, The Dark Knight and Spider-Man.
But by playing up The Heat's "gender neutral" status, is Fox really saying, "ignore the fact that these are women"? Is the studio trying to trick dudes into watching women on screen, like sneaking vegetables into brownies? Or is this right way to teach the world that a woman's story can be for everyone, not just for women?
"It's crazy; over 50% of the people on the planet are women and there are only a couple of movies coming out that appeal to them or are made by them," says The Heat's director, Paul Feig (also responsible for Bridesmaids.) And:
"For so many years now the movies catering to women have left men bored out of their minds. The Heat was built from the ground up to just be ridiculously funny."