Director: Paul Feig
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Demian Bichir, Marlon Wayans, Michael Rappaport, Jane Curtain
Written by: Katie Dippold
Running Time: 117 mins
Release date: 31st July 2013
There was a time in the 80s when the cinemas were full of buddy buddy cop thrillers, from Lethal Weapon to Red Heat, 48 Hrs to Tango and Cash. Audiences couldn’t get enough of the mismatched banter while things were blowing up. So it’s been a while since we have a film that relies on two cops thrown together to solve a crime. The Heat not only uses the old genre but adds a new twist: female cops and partners Sandra Bullock with the screen’s new flavour of the month, Melissa McCarthy. What we get isn’t that original and needs a few more laughs for its running time.
Sarah Ashburn is an FBI agent that none of her workmates like, due to her arrogant attitude and ambitious approach to the job. She wants promotion desperately to the expense of her workmates. Given an assignment to go to Boston and track down an notorious drug lord, Lassen, she immediately faces her worse nightmare: a female cop with a very bad attitude that even her own boss is frightened of, Mullins. Both women are told to work together to get Lassens but first they have to learn to work together; Ashburn is a woman who works meticulously while Mullins goes in with all guns blazing. Will they solve the case before they kill each other?
You immediately see the pitch as soon as this film starts. Miss Congeniality meets Bridesmaids. That is exactly what you get. Ms Bullock, virtually playing the same role she did in her 2000 smash, while Ms McCarthy extends her crassness she created with her character in the hit comedy from a few years ago. So it must have seemed a really good idea to put the pair together and, most of the time it does work. I am only saying most of the time.
The trouble with The Heat is that it is territory we have been before and in a far better way. The perfect example of this genre is Lethal Weapon, where we have a psycho cop and a man close to retirement, yet along with the witty banter and the quick-fire one-liners, it had a decent thriller running through the middle of it. Here we get the banter, the witty lines but the thriller part isn’t that thrilling and when the villain is announced, it’s a so-what moment rather than a wow!
That’s not saying it doesn’t have its moments and it is funny. Not hilariously, pain-in-the-side hilarious but compared to some comedies of late, the laugh factor is pretty high (and it’s a massive improvement on Melissa McCarthy’s last screen outing Identity Thief). It does rely a great deal on crassness and the language is as fruity as a smoothie and there are some rather uncomfortable moments between the two leads and an albino cop (which are funny but the joke does go a little too far).
Bullock and McCarthy are a good pair and they work best when led off the script and are improvising (you can tell the difference). A drunken night in a bar is a high point but it is very much like watching two actresses who can do comedy trying to out-gag the other, mostly McCarthy, who is louder, wins, leaving Bullock playing the straight woman but we know that Bullock can deliver the jokes as well as the next guy (or gal).
It also suffers from that age old problem of being far too long. At nearly two hours, it has plenty of flabby moments which could easily have ended up on the cutting room floor.
Not a total disaster by a long shot but one that you can see the possibilities for these two characters and with a stronger script and tighter direction, this could have been the comedy smash of the year. Instead it’s a mildly amusing slice of entertainment that, if you are not easily offended, should make you smile while watching but it might be a struggle to remember a few weeks after. I did love the 70s style theme tune though. By the way…what’s wrong with Melissa McCarthy’s face on the poster? Major botox?