Paul Feig’s The Heat is a viable comedy mainly because of its quick-witted dialog and remarkable chemistry its leads possess. However, at its core, it is still a buddy-cop comedy and exercises in a genre that is very, very worn out. No matter what cast-pairing comes forth, or whatever writer grabs a pen, it will still take an unrefined miracle to liven the genre to heights unforeseeable.

In The Heat, Sandra Bullock plays FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn, a confident, politically correct, sometimes arrogant woman who has been in the force for years, and has closed more cases and stumbled upon more drug busts than anyone of her kind. Detective Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) is a sloppy, reckless, and extremely vulgar woman who prefers unconventional, impulsive methods over strategic, meticulously crafted ones. Because Ashburn’s boss (Oscar-nominated Demián Bichir) believes she needs needs to learn to work happily with local detectives/law enforcement, Ashburn must team up with her polar-opposite Mullins in order to take down a new drug case that is sweeping the Boston area. Ashburn brings the brains and the strategy to the table, and also has access to confidential files that Mullins, herself, can not obtain. However, Mullins is a native to the Boston area, where Ashburn was recently relocated here, so she comes in handy with the geography.

The fact that both of these characters bring something unique to each other is a benefit because it gives us a nice perception that these two, while being different, can work together to achieve a greater goal. It’s a simple, relatively common cliche, but here, it is utilized quite nicely. It also helps to have Bullock and McCarthy in the lead roles. Bullock, a diverse character-actor, has electric chemistry with McCarthy, who has been up-and-down with me in terms of reception. Her grossness was fun for a little while in Bridesmaids (also directed by Feig), but grew tiresome with repeated viewings and her performance in Identity Thief was more grinding and tedious than funny. Here, her excessive vulgarity will wear on some, but it’s her constant shamelessness that makes her funny. The fact that she doesn’t care who she is around and the thought that even an FBI Special Agent doesn’t intimidate her that makes her antics funny.


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Feig has a philosophy with his female characters that I whole-heartedly support and that women can be just as funny – if not, funnier — than men and that more films should center around female characters. I’d love to see the man tackle a heavy drama around a group of female characters and take a hiatus from directing very raunchy comedies. However, the charming thing about The Heat is it doesn’t make an attempt at the cliche-in-the-making that women can be strong without the help of a man. Granted “The Heat” doesn’t have a romantic subplot (thankfully) but that is because the women in the film are devoted to their jobs and simply don’t feel obligated to find love. They also don’t feel obligated to try and change each other. By the end of the film, Ashburn and Mullins have a slightly different perspective, but they still remain true to their personalities and don’t experience the tired-personality overhaul many characters do – especially in buddy movies.


To put it simply, there is a lot of fun to be had with The Heat, more than you’d expect from the umpteenth rendition of the buddy-cop comedy. As stated, though, it’s still your basic buddy-cop movie equipped with druglord cliches, the obligatory and slightly obvious twist, and the monotony of ambushes and action. At least the film is buoyed by two great actresses in two fitting and nicely-conducted performances, which is more that can be said about a lot of tired rehashes of this particular genre.

Grade: B

Reviewed by Steve Pulaski

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