Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy tackle the buddy comedy genre and according to its title, they bring The Heat. Our The Heat review wonders… do they?
Bullock is painted in the early moments of the film as the best FBI agent the world has ever seen. She can find drugs, weapons… anything, simply by having a “feeling” that something is afoot. McCarthy is a Boston street cop who works alone and within moments of her first scene, we can see why. To say she’s brash and does not play well with others is an understatement.
Bullock is sent to Beantown (What’s our Top 10 Boston Set Movies?) to pursue a lead on a case and wouldn’t you know it, the one police officer in the entire city who can put the pieces together to her puzzle is McCarthy.
The Heat trailer makes it abundantly clear -- the selling point of this action comedy is the repartee of the two leads. And yes, they do click with Bullock being a perfect straight woman to McCarthy’s outlandish and humorous antics. The problem is the script fails them over the course of the entire film.
If we are to believe that Bullock is as good as she’s painted to be in the film’s opening moments, then why is she the fish in this fish out of water turn of the story? Once she gets to Boston, her impeccable skill seems to evaporate. Perhaps it is that McCarthy gets under her skin. Whatever the reason, it is never fully explained and McCarthy is primed to take over the picture -- and boy does she.
McCarthy had us laughing throughout. Sure, it is a shtick of hers that we’ve seen in part before and we love her for it. Her performance is sort of a hybrid of her work in Bridesmaids meets Mike and Molly with a touch of Identity Thief thrown in. The Groundlings veteran is incredibly talented and she has been playing, or only has been offered, a variation on a theme role for several years now. The Heat does not manage to use her full potential by giving her some moves that yes, produce laughs, but do not advance the story as they should.
The thing is, once these two have a night of drunken debauchery (don’t all buddy cop movies do that?), they bond and then the movie actually takes off towards the conclusion. But to wait two acts for one strong final act may be too much to ask of audiences in the crowded summer movie season.
Director Paul Feig is himself coming off the success of Bridesmaids, and does the best he can with a thin script. He is still a master of comedy direction, and it’s nice to see him tackle some action as well. But, what The Heat proves is that without the solid material, Feig can only save the movie so much.