Movie Review: The Heat

A scene from The Heat. Courtesy 20th Century Fox.

The last time director Paul Feig and actress Melissa McCarthy collaborated on the megahit Bridesmaids, they showed that women could be just as raunchy as comedians as their male counterparts. They bring the same energy, style, and wit – along with Sandra Bullock – to the female buddy cop comedy The Heat.

Straight-laced and arrogant NYC FBI agent Ashburn (Bullock) gets reassigned to Boston partially because her co-workers can’t stand her, but mostly to track down a ruthless unknown drug kingpin no one has ever laid eyes on. She runs afoul of foul mouthed and uncouth local PD officer Mullins (McCarthy), who has a personal stake in the case tied to her family. Together the duo begin to accept each others differences, work as a team, learn from each other, and kick some serious ass in traditional buddy cop movie fashion.

Nothing about The Heat will particularly be lauded as groundbreaking in terms of plotting or story originality, but Feig and his stars take the gender based subversion of the genre quite seriously to deliver an exciting and often hilarious yarn that wouldn’t feel out of place alongside 80s genre classics like Dragnet, Running Scared, and Beverly Hills Cop. It’s not necessarily as great as those, but it certainly aces the feeling of watching one of them. The action isn’t as over the top with the focus mainly on beat downs, shakedowns, one liners and shoot-outs, but in a summer that threatened overkill on action, this seems refreshing.

Bullock and McCarthy make for the perfect comedic team even when the films sometimes slack pacing, awkward editing, and threadbare plot let them down. Bullock has a role she’s essentially played in the past in the Miss Congeniality films, but this time with a more wholesome goody-two-shoes bent. McCarthy is again the show stopper as the thickly accented, quick witted, and vastly more street smart of the two. Feig also utilizes their talents as physical comedians perfectly in the films biggest and most refreshing coup.

It still gets as raunchy as Bridesmaids at times (including a bizarre tracheotomy sequence and a gag involving a character getting stabbed with an oyster shucker), but it’s still all in good fun. A sequel to the film has already been cautiously given the go-ahead, and considering the first instalment plays to the starring duos strengths, let’s hope they can strengthen the story the next time out.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Rated 14A
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy
Directed by: Paul Feig

Top image: A scene from The Heat. Courtesy 20th Century Fox.

Andrew Parker

About Andrew Parker

Andrew Parker writes for numerous blogs and publications, including Notes From the Toronto Underground and his more personal pop-culture blog, I Can't Get Laid in This Town. He is also the curator of the Defending the Indefensible series of films at the Toronto Underground Cinema.