By Gary Murray
Starring Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy and Marlon Wayans
Written by Katie Dippold
Directed by Paul Feig
Running time 125 min
MPAA Rating R
Selig Film Rating Cable
The buddy cop comedy has had many transgressions. We’ve got ‘good cop/bad cop’, ‘by the book cop/rogue cop’, ‘sane cop /crazy cop’ and even ‘human cop /dog’ cop. But, we really haven’t had the two female cops. The Heat takes the genre and gives it a slight twist.
The film stars Sandra Bullock as Sarah Ashburn, a by the books FBI agent who does her job perfectly but is not respected by her fellow officers. The only agent who seems to be on her side is Levy (Marlon Wayans). She is up for a promotion but her boss believes that she needs to be more of team player.
She is sent to Boston to investigate a mysterious drug lord Larkin. He is a ruthless killer of anyone who stands in his way but no one knows anything about the man. In the world of the underworld, he is a ghost.
In Boston, there is officer Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy). She is a brash fireball of a cop who has a mouth like an open sewer. She is a mess, wearing the same clothes day after day. Her goal is simple; she just wants to keep her neighborhood clean. This includes taking her brother into custody.
The two women bump heads almost immediately. Both want the same things; they just go about it in polar opposite ways. Where Ashburn tries to get information by being nice to a suspect, Mullins throws telephone books at them. The two women do not trust each other and Mullins must steal information in order to be even with Ashburn.
The two follow the trail of a drug lord that leads them over DEA territory. They step on the toes of an investigation where the lead is an albino. So, we have to get half a dozen pale jokes into the mix.
The film twists and turns as these two cops eventually learn to trust each other and become friends. Along the way, they break law after law in a concept that the ends justify the means. We also meet Mullins extended family and they are a proof that we need strong laws against procreation. They are a gaggle of horrible persons that reminds one of the family in The Fighter but not as charming.
Sandra Bullock is one of the best actresses working today but this role is truly beneath her. While this film will make a ton of money, it is just not the kind of flick one would expect from the lauded performer. It almost feels like she is playing a tangent character from Miss Congeniality.
Melissa McCarthy has recently been making some inroads in cinema. The television star has had some success playing crude characters but this one is so far beyond anything she has ever done in terms of shear dirtiness. It is a new low for women in film.
But, for some reason, there is an amazing chemistry between the two women. It is obvious that they enjoy working together, flying insults at each other. Much like the Ocean’s series, this looks like the on-set antics were side-splitting. It just doesn’t show up that much on the screen. The best montage scene of the work is when they bond over heavy drinking. It the highlight in a film full of lowlights.
Paul Feig is the director behind Bridesmaids and this film goes down much of the same paths. He copies much of the flair of the 1970s black exploitation film, flicks such as Shaft and Super-fly, but he never finds the heart of those types of movies. It is much more of an exercise in frustration than an entertaining night at the cinema.
This is a movie that revels in dirty language. It is a film that drops ‘F-bombs’ to a degree that one would expect from an adult feature. After a while, it becomes trite and tiresome. Somebody needs to tell writer Katie Dippold that if the joke only works because of the swearing then it is a weak joke.
Yes there are a lot of laughs in The Heat, but one feels guilty afterward about laughing at them. It is foul to the nth degree, hateful and hurtful in a number of ways. It is said that brevity is the soul of wit and this film wears out it comedic welcome fairly fast.
There is nothing I could ever write that will change the mind of patrons going to the cinema to see The Heat. This is the kind of movie that will be a part of the top ten in grosses of 2013. But, be warned, it is a very rough ride.