The Heat

© 2013 Ray Wong

Buddy cop movies are a dime a dozen these days, but one that stars two top female comedians is something new. And if Bridesmaids has taught us anything, female-centric comedies with strong leads and good writing is hot these days.

FBI agent Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) is a top-performing agent disliked by her colleagues because of her know-it-all and difficult-to-work-with arrogance. She is up for a promotion but her boss (Demian Bichir) is reluctant to consider her unless she cracks a serious drug case in Boston. So, with her promotion at stake, off she goes to track down a murderous drug lord named Larkin.

Her investigation leads her to the Boston PD and a drug dealer named Rojas (Spoken Reasons), forcing her to work with an abrasive, loud-mouthed cop named Mullins (Melissa McCarthy). The methodical Ashburn and "anything goes" Mullins hate each other right from the start, but with a lot to lose, they must work together to bring Larkin to justice.

It turns out that Mullins's brother Jason (Michael Rapaport) may have a connection with Larkins, but Mullins is reluctant to put him in danger. Meanwhile, Ashburn is willing to use anything, anyone to get what she wants. As the two women work together grudgingly, they discover they are actually not that different.

Sandra Bullock (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) is one of those rare beauties who excel in both serious drama (she won an Oscar for The Blind Side) and comedy. Granted, this is a role that feels familiar: a combination of Miss Congeniality and The Proposal, both in the "hit" column for Bullock. So obviously the star feels right at home with this character.

Since her breakout role in Bridesmaids, Melissa McCarthy (Identity Theft) has been doing pretty much the same schtick that one begins to question her range. But she does it so well that it's hard not to think of her when you see a character like Mullins. McCarthy has a great ability to be obnoxious and abrasive while at the same time display great heart and vulnerability. Mullins is a part specifically made for her, and she does a great job.

Furthermore, Bullock and McCarthy have great chemistry together and that's 80% of the battle when you're making a buddy cop movie.

The supporting cast fills their roles adequately, but we all know this is really Bullock's and McCarthy's movie. Demian Bichir (A Better Life) is square as Bullock's boss -- the serious actor surprises with his humorous side even though the role is entirely straight. Marlon Wayans (A Haunted House) plays dashing, charming agent Levy with, well, great charm. Michael Rapaport (Last I Heard) is ernest as Mullins's troubled brother, and it's great to see Jane Curtin. Newcomer Spoken Reasons is somewhat annoying a local drug dealer.

Let's face it, the story and plot of a buddy cop movie is secondary to the characters and on-screen chemistry. That said, this script (by Katie Dippold) is serviceable, providing the right circumstances and plot twists to keep the movie interesting. Some of the scenes serve no other purpose than giving Bullock and McCarthy something hilarious to do. That said, there are some clever moments that did catch me my surprise.

The dialogue is sharp, crude, and funny. You can tell the writer and the actors have a lot of fun with these lines, which are by and large hilarious. McCarthy, in particular, gets the best lines with her explosive, abrasive characterization. Bullock plays the "straight woman" so her lines are more reserved and lame, but they work well as a team. They're like fire and ice, and it's a perfect combination.

Paul Feig's (Bridesmaids) direction is also serviceable. It's not as tight and fluid as Bridesmaids but his grungy stile works well with the movie's setup. Most of all, Feig peppers the movie with memorable if minor characters and let his leads work their magic together. Buddy cop movies is all about chemistry, and Feig knows that he's got it in Bullock and McCarthy, and he simply retreats to let his stars shine.

Sure, The Heat is derivative and the story is pedestrian, but it is also a great pleasure to see two female comedians at the top of their games. Their chemistry and the sharp dialogue are what make the movie great fun to watch. They sure have turned up the heat!

Stars: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Demian Bichir, Marlon Wayans, Michael Rapaport, Jane Curtin, Spoken Reasons, Thomas F. Wilson, Michael McDonald, Taran Killam
Director: Paul Feig
Writer: Katie Dippold
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
MPAA Rating:  R for pervasive language, strong crude content and some violence
Running Time: 117 minutes


Script - 7
Performance - 8
Direction - 7
Cinematography - 7
Music/Sound - 7
Editing - 8
Production - 8

Total - 7.5 out of 10.0 

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