For years, the male gender has had a monopoly on the buddy cop genre, but that all changes with The Heat, the new R-rated comedy from Bridesmaids director Paul Feig. The movie stars a pair of women who appear to be a match made in comedy heaven. Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy have each earned their place among the short-list of modern cinema’s funniest comediennes, but they have done so with completely different comic styles. Fortunately for us, those different comic styles are as perfect of a blend as we could have hoped.
Bullock plays Ashburn, an FBI agent so uptight and cocky that none of her fellow New York agents want anything to do with her. She’s got no friends and even has to “share” her neighbor’s cat. Sent to Boston to investigate a drug ring, Ashburn soon finds herself in the company of her total opposite: a foul-mouthed and aggressive local detective named Mullins, played by McCarthy. Reluctantly, the two become partners and must work together to solve the case, something that is certainly easier said than done.
Their investigation leads them to a couple of mid-level dealers who might be the link they need to the as-yet-unidentified big boss. Unfortunately, their brash investigation techniques have gotten them into hot water not only with their own agencies, but also the DEA, who have been on this case much longer than they have. Their antics have also attracted the attention of the bad guys, who then threaten Mullins’ family. She vows to do whatever she can to help them, but it is difficult when they already hate her for arresting her own brother.
Bullock and McCarthy make for a classic comic pair. Whereas Bullock specializes in being a physical comedienne, McCarthy is certainly the verbal comedienne. The movie allows them both to cross humorously into the other’s comic territory, but they are definitely at their best when they keep to their specialties.
McCarthy is seemingly given free rein to go off script as often and as far as she chooses. Not every one of her adlibbed and often foul-mouthed jokes land, but when they do, they land hard. This movie is filled with laugh-out-loud moments throughout which works to keep our interest even as the wimpy plot limps along unevenly.
It is clear that when writing the script, much more of the thought process went into the jokes than into the actual story. It’s a very straight-forward investigation comedy with few unexpected twists. The only real plot twist is ruined by the fact that the character who is revealed to be the kingpin is played so poorly by the actor who plays him/her in the scenes leading up to the reveal—and after—that even if the audience buys it, they don’t want to.
The poor story does little to ruin the fun of this movie, however, which is really about the interaction between two of the funniest women working in Hollywood today. The lack of a plot may be the factor that keeps this movie from holding up on multiple viewings when the jokes’ impact fades a little, but for a summer escape to the theaters, you won’t find many movies with as many laughs as this one.
The Heat is rated R for “pervasive language, strong crude content and some violence.” With the exception of one surprisingly out-of-place scene involving a lot of blood, the violence was not too graphic. The crude content and foul language, however, are more than enough to warrant the R rating.
Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of The Heat.