Written by Katie Dippold
Directed by Paul Feig
Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy give us a fucking hilarious action comedy with The Heat. The swear word is used in spirit with the film, which throws F-bombs like an NFL quarterback. Before we continue, be advised I saw this at a free public screening, so once again Tars has sold out.
The Heat is not afraid to be rough around the edges and show violence as it is, violent. Characters are killed with large bullet holes and blood splatters, while a villain who dismembers his victims is the target of Ashburn’s investigation in Boston. The Heat takes advantage of the R-rating to not sugar coat the consequences. Paul Feig gives a worthy Bridesmaids followup that is still female focused, which is great because that film inspired a whole host of woman-centered comedies that have shined more than not.
The two female lead roles are unique in that the reasons no one likes their characters has nothing to do with the fact that they are women and everything to do with them being terrible people to work with. This doesn’t mean they are bad at their jobs, they are among the best. But they work best alone because they are on such a different page than their coworkers. Rowdy Detective Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) berates and yells at her boss (played by a hilarious Tom Wilson from Back to the Future) so much he’s rapidly aging. Straitlaced Agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) spends most of her field ops criticizing her fellow agents and upstaging everyone with finding hidden evidence, including the dogs.
The consequences of not being liked has had an effect on both women. Ashburn lives alone, with only her neighbor’s cat for company. Her history as a foster kid prevented her from wanting to form any permanent social attachments, and her stab at marriage ended in divorce. Mullins lives in a run down apartment, her family hating her after she put her brother in jail to get him away from the bad influences around him. She has a string of loose relationships that then result in awkward rejections of the guys as she randomly runs into them.
Agent Ashburn is sent to investigate the violent new source of drug supply in Boston, which has her cross paths with Detective Mullins. Of course they hate each other at first, but as Mullins is the only Boston detective capable of busting drug dealers for some reason, and Ashburn is being forced to work with the locals to proves she has good people skills for a promotion she wants, the two end up as loose partners. And that’s the crux of the film, as it’s less of a police procedural and more about the two women and their relationship.
Something is to be said that Ashburn learns to work with others by working with someone who can’t work with others. While Mullins learns that being a gung ho loner can only get you so far, and sometimes working in a team gets you further. The women learn to respect each other and their work ethics, becoming a stronger team as a result.
The nature of the plot means there are a few points in the two hour running time where things drag just a bit, but overall the ride is smooth and things go well together. A complaint could be made that a few of the comedy scenes don’t go far enough. Some of the best parts are when things just stop and get crazy for a while. Mullins’ large and loud (very loud!) family is the type that everyone knows one family like that (or might even be part of it!) and the sequences where they just go 110% screaming at each other are funny enough I’ll have to watch The Heat again to catch the jokes I missed from laughing. How much of that was scripted and how much was just everyone riffing ridiculous things I do not know, but it seemed so natural.
There is a repeated element with rival DEA agents randomly showing up during the investigation, complete with one being an albino loudmouth (Dan Bakkedahl). Having some scenes extended but not others makes the pacing a bit off, but that’s an acceptable compromise for giving us quality material. I will be very interested in deleted and extended scenes once the DVD hits.
The Heat delivers on some funny comedic action, giving Paul Feig more than just a retread of the same material than his last film. Katie Dippold gives us a script that doesn’t play out like the usual buddy cop movie, giving us a unique spin that entertains and gives room for the performers to shine. If anything, my largest criticism would be we have yet another movie that accepts torture as a quick way to get answers. But that’s just me being killjoy me, and it doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the film. Recommended to go see The Heat to get the taste of whatever big budget failure you do end up seeing this summer out of your mouth!
Rated 8/10 (Suspect, Evil Alternate Biff, too cool, too hung over, too also hung over, the boss, interview witness, the magic touch)
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