Sandra Bullock might receive top billing, but Melissa McCarthy is the reason folks should go see The Heat. McCarthy, reuniting with her Bridesmaids director Paul Feig, gets more laughs in her first 10 minutes here than the Wolf Pack got in the entirety of The Hangover Part III.
As Mullins—one of those Boston police detectives who can only exist at the movies—McCarthy reminds viewers that she is one of the best comic actresses working today. When she’s on a roll, anything she says is funny (especially when that “anything” is tagged with a creative array of obscenities). Not since Eddie Murphy was in his heyday has a performer spun an abundance of vulgarity so eloquently. She is the goddess of four-letter words.
Bullock complements her well as the straight-laced Ashburn, an FBI agent who is in Boston to take out a notorious drug lord—and hopefully score a big promotion in the process. Bullock has played this type of role before, most notably in Miss Congeniality. This time, however, she isn’t hamstrung by a PG-13 rating and family-friendly themes. Instead, she’s trading verbal punches with McCarthy, and she’s up for the task.
Mullins and Ashburn find their mismatched selves teamed up in usual movie buddy-cop style. They hate each other at first, but they will learn to respect and work well with each other as they take out the bad guys. En route to doing so, they will, of course, have a drinking sequence during which they bond and dance, and they will learn a little something about themselves and each other that will make them better people.
Yes, The Heat is contrived, with many elements we’ve all seen before. But Bullock and McCarthy are such a winning pair that you will forgive its lack of originality and occasional slow parts. When the film is firing on all cylinders, it has genuine laugh-out-loud moments.
I love the fact that one of the Drug Enforcement Administration agents is an albino (Dan Bakkedahl)—an albino with a bad temper who Mullins suspects could be dirty, simply because he’s an albino. (There are shades of Gary Busey in Lethal Weapon.) It’s also great to see Tom Wilson (Biff from Back to the Future) as a frustrated police chief prematurely aged due to Mullins and her rule-breaking.
I expect McCarthy to be funny, and she often is. I didn’t like her in this year’s Identity Thief, but that was a poorly written vehicle, and its failure in my eyes wasn’t necessarily her fault. Bullock, on the other hand, has never struck me as remarkably funny in her comedy films (although she has gotten a few giggles out of me on awards shows). The Heat proves that she might be most at home in an R-rated comedy with somebody funnier holding her up.
Is The Heat the first pure female cop-buddy picture? If there is another one, it probably wasn’t that good, because I can’t remember it. This one, although well short of being a classic, does stand proud in the genre.
While Feig couldn’t talk Kristen Wiig into making a Bridesmaids sequel, he may have better luck getting McCarthy and Bullock on board for more with these characters. Bullock hasn’t had a film this good in a long while (The Blind Side was overrated), and McCarthy should be game.
If you are looking for laughs, this or Seth Rogen’s This Is the End will do the trick. Don’t see The Hangover Part III, though. That thing will cause you immeasurable damage.
The Heat is playing at theaters across the valley.