out of Five
Running time: 117
Watchable buddy comedy enlivened by a pair of strong comic performances
from its two leads, though it's also far too indulgent of McCarthy's ad-libbing and feels a good twenty minutes too long.
What's it all about?
Directed by Paul Feig, The Heat stars Sandra Bullock as uptight, super efficient FBI agent Sarah Ashburn, who's informed by her boss (Demian Bichir) that she'd be in line for promotion, were it not for the fact that none of her colleagues like her. When she's sent to Boston to take down a murderous drug dealer, she's forced to work with foul mouthed, unorthodox local cop Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) and when she objects, her boss makes it clear that her future depends on her making their partnership work. Needless to say, the mismatched pair are soon clashing furiously, but, against all odds, they begin to make progress in the case.
Bullock and McCarthy make an intriguingly offbeat comic duo, not least because the script isn't afraid to give both characters some fairly unlikeable characteristics upfront, the idea being that their exposure to each other makes them both better people, or something. At any rate, both actresses are seasoned comic performers and their sparky bickering, coupled with some amusing physical comedy, is frequently very funny.
For the most part, Paul Feig's direction is spot on, even if he never quite reaches the comic heights he achieved with Bridesmaids; the best moments are the film's enjoyable riffs on traditional buddy cop set-pieces, such as the pair dangling a suspect from a fire escape in order to make him talk. He also has some success with the film's more off-the-wall character moments, such as Mullins' dim-witted and
constantly shouting family, who are like a nightmare version of the family in The Fighter.
The film's main problem is that it's far too indulgent of McCarthy's stock-in-trade, i.e. her propensity to ad-lib a foul mouthed rant in the direction of anyone who gets in her way; this happens so often here that it eventually becomes tiresome and the film would have been a lot better for cutting them all down. Similarly, it's fair to say
that not all of the gags work and Feig occasionally struggles with the film's tone; for example, there's a binge drinking montage scene that feels like it belongs in a different film and there's an attempt at gross-out humour involving a tracheotomy that's painfully unfunny and probably should have been cut.
The Heat is formulaic, frequently over-indulgent and overstays its running time by a good twenty minutes, but it also delivers a decent number of laughs thanks to strong comic performances from Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.