The buddy cop film has been done many times, from 48 Hours (generally recognized as the first), to Lethal Weapon, and the more recent The Others. However, The Heat may just be the first to use to formula with two females. Interestingly, The Heat could have fallen more into Miss Congeniality territory (another film with Sandra Bullock playing an FBI agent) with a softer PG-13 rating and generally milder comedy suited to a tamer audience. Instead, The Heat aims to fit in with the rest of the more brash and crude male-driven buddy cop films, proving that women are just as capable to handle the task.
The Heat is set up like a typical buddy cop film- a genre that Roger Ebert playfully called a ‘wunza movie’ after the ‘One’s a…’ description of the two main characters. Sandra Bullock plays Sarah Ashburn, a socially awkward know-it-all FBI agent sent to Boston to help in bringing down a drug kingpin. She, of course, must team up with fingerless glove-wearing, constantly swearing Shannon Mullins, played by Melissa McCarthy, the most crude female cop in the district, hell bent on seeking justice anyway she can. It’s like The Odd Couple meets The French Connection, with McCarthy playing the ‘funny man’ and Bullock mainly playing it straight. Melissa McCarthy is her usual self, loud and profane yet likable and endearing. And while Bullock may not bring the laughs herself, it’s through her interactions with McCarthy that creates the comedy.
It’s a shame, though, that the laughs don’t come often enough. The beginning is rather slow, with little comedy to be seen until McCarthy and Bullock are finally on screen together. And while there are laughs to be had thereafter, there are also lulls. With a nearly two hour run time, the film feels even longer during these glacial moments. There are moments of brilliance, however, which almost make up for the rest of the film. It’s McCarthy who steals the show, with her zany one-liners and gift for physical comedy, she proves to be one of the funniest female comedians working today. Director Paul Feig, who worked on Arrested Develpement and directed the 2011 hit Bridesmaids, proves once again that he knows how to handle a wide range of talent. And while The Heat is a tad predictable, with McCarthy and Bullock on the screen, it soon becomes apparent that the story only serves the purpose for setting up each comedic scenario. Thus when the emotional moments trickle through, they don’t seem as sincere.
While The Heat has many moments of brilliance, it’s a shame that it didn’t put much of a spin on the genre. And while the pairing of McCarthy and Bullock is oddly inspiring, it’s mainly McCarthy who does the leg-work. Still, The Heat has plenty to offer in laughs, even in a summer filled with lackluster films.