- Movie Rating -

The Heat (2013)

| June 28, 2013 | 0 Comments

“The Heat” is a comedy that operates on a bit of casting that, let’s face it, no one could refuse.  Take two of our most gifted comic talents, Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy – whose individual anatomical landscapes remind us of no-less than Abbott and Costello – and put them together in a raucous comic adventure.  Look at the two on a poster together and your mind can only conjure comic gold.  Then give them director Paul Feig, the man who made the brilliant debut with “Bridesmaids” two years ago, and how could you go wrong?

That concept, to be honest, is better than the result.  “The Heat” is an ordinary a cop buddy adventure that only works about half the time.  It has a lot of energy but only a handful of laughs.  As is the standard for most comedies these days, the jokes are mostly crude and vulgar, aimed chiefly at demeaning the male genitalia.  Fully half of McCarthy’s dialogue is dedicated to this endeavor. Yet, to be fair she does throw in references areolas and cervixes. The screenplay represents a full-range of genital-focused smack-talk.  It is probably amusing for a few seconds and then it grows tiresome, irritating and finally exasperating.  Where have you gone, Noel Coward?  A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

The plot is so bland that it remains almost invisible – it’s really just a hook on which to hang the gags. It involves uptight FBI special agent Sarah Ashburn (Bullock) who is paired with slob Boston cop Shannon Mullins (McCarthy) in order to take down a ruthless drug lord. The catch: neither woman has ever had a partner, or a real friend.  Ashburn is the kind of button-down, drink-your-milk type who does her job well, never uses foul language, and never wrinkles her suit. Her social life is so empty that she takes to stealing the neighbor’s cat to have some companionship.  Mullins is a slob who keeps a live hand-grenade in her refrigerator right next to a sandwich that has been around so long it should probably pay its share of the rent.  She’s the type of cop who insists on interrogating a male suspect by playing Russian roulette with a gun pressed against his genitals.  That may sound amusing but consider that is the first of two comedies this summer that employ that tactic.

It isn’t surprising that the two hate each other from the start.  That means that eventually we’ll get the scene in which they bond over drinks at a bar while revealing painful secrets about themselves.  That scene does emerge, but what comes after it is the best scene in the movie.  Both women get drunk and find themselves dancing to “Groove is in the Heart” and then “Every Woman in the World” in visual gag that is funnier than it sounds.

It is hard not to like these two characters.  Their personality tics make them difficult to like at first –  especially in McCarthy’s case because she plays such a foul-mouthed bully that we have a hard time warming up to her.  But we get some of her family background, and we come to like her.  Eventually, yes, the two bond like sisters.

Director Paul Feig, working from a script by “MADtv” writer Katie Dippold, doesn’t get the comic burst that he had with “Bridesmaids.”  The chief difference between the two films is that “Bridesmaids” had a concept that was open enough that the characters didn’t feel locked into the plot.  The screenplay was loose enough to give the women room to breathe.  “The Heat” doesn’t have that luxury.  It is a straight-lined, clockwork, cop-buddy formula that hardly wavers from the conventions of the genre.  The narrative is all over the place.  It tries to be a slapstick comedy, then a tender friendship drama then a hardboiled cop movie, but it never really takes off. The story is over-written and the movie is about half-an-hour too long.

Now the million dollar question: Is the movie funny?  The quick answer: in fits and starts.  There are about five or six big laughs (not spoiled here) but it doesn’t have constant laughs.  It’s a likable movie, but you can’t really love it.  If you are looking for the best comedy playing right now, check out a movie playing right now in the same multiplex called “Monsters University.”  Yes, it is a movie for kids, but that movie is consistently, often hysterically funny where “The Heat” is amusing only in fits and starts.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2013) View IMDB Filed in: Action, Comedy, Recent