Starring Sandra Bullock & Melissa McCarthy
Directed by Paul Feig
R, 117 min.
Released June 28, 2013
“Being a woman in this field is hard,” says Sandra Bullock’s character at one point in this zesty zinger of a summer comedy in which she plays an uptight, by-the-books FBI agent paired with a foul-mouthed, street-smart Boston cop (Melissa McCarthy) to track down a brutal drug smuggler.
Ain’t it the truth: The “buddy” genre, like the FBI, is almost exclusively the province of guys, and we’ve seen exhaustive pair-ups over the years of male co-stars in endless variations on the scenario described above.
Which is one reason “The Heat” seems so fresh and feisty: It plunks two females into a situation we’re much more conditioned to see filled out with some team-up of testosterone. But that’s only part of why it works.
McCarthy, the star of TV’s “Mike & Molly,” has a true comedic gift that combines her generous physicality with a willingness to do, or say, just about anything, and a timing that’s spot-on and pitch-perfect. She primes the audience for laughs from her very first scene, going all-out to bust a couple of “perps,” and keeping the flow of funny going till the end. She gets laughs just by walking into the camera’s frame.
Her “crazy” haywire cop, Mullins, and Bullock’s straight-arrow agent, Ashburn, totally mismatched partners—of course. But the actresses have a chemistry that clicks even as it’s clashing, and the circumstances in which the movie places them often lead to flat-out hilarity.
Credit the gold-star script, from “MADtv” and “Parks & Recreation” TV writer Katie DiPold, with a lot of the rapid-fire wit, especially the arsenal of howlingly funny R-rated putdowns McCarney’s character zaps at suspects, coworkers and even her new partner.
Director Paul Feig, who made his splash with the bawdy hit comedy “Bridesmaids” in 2011 (which featured McCarthy’s breakout role), knows that women can be just as funny—and raunchy—as men. Since audiences these days should realize what they’re getting when it comes with an R rating, it should be obvious that “The Heat” isn’t for children.
The movie sprinkles in appearances from a number of recognizable faces, including former Backstreet Boy Joey McIntyre; current “Saturday Night Live” actor Taran Killam and founding cast member Jane Curtain; Thomas Wilson, who played the bully Biff in the “Back to the Future” movies; Chris Gethard and Zach Woods, two former actors from TV’s “The Office,” for which Feig also directed; and Kaitlin Olson from the sitcom “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”
Everything rocks, rolls and rollicks along on the comically charged combo of McCarthy and Bullock, to be sure. But the whole project is a testament to what can happen when you round up funny people and cut them loose to do what funny people do. And it boils down to this: A director, a writer, two all-aboard actresses and their supporting cast, and everyone in synch with everyone else’s funny bones. In a summer of big, over-cooked, over-stirred drama-ramas and other excessive cinematic crockery, the simple surprise recipe of “The Heat” makes it the hot comedy to beat.