The Heat Review

The Heat

Let’s get two things straight.

Firstly, I’m not the world’s biggest Sandra Bullock fan.

It’s not that I dislike her, I just don’t find she adds much to a film; like sesame seeds on the bun of a comedy hamburger.

Secondly, I think the world is quite full up on formulaic buddy cop comedies, thank you very much.

Nothing is more depressing than the thought of studio heads flipping through entertainment magazines, working out which untried combination of stars will make them the most money on their next picture.

Ferrell and Wahlberg?

Smith and Lawrence?

James Belushi and a sniffer dog?

So it was with decidedly low expectations that I trudged along to see The Heat, a formulaic buddy cop comedy starring Sandra Bullock.

But I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised.

This was primarily down to the performance of Melissa McCarthy, who certainly lives up to her post-Bridesmaids hype and makes this film worth the effort.

Story here unashamedly takes a backseat to the banter between Bullock (straight-laced FBI automaton Ashburn) and McCarthy (maverick slobby cop Mullins).

Imagine if Cagney and Lacey was adapted for the big screen for laughs, a la Stiller and Wilson’s Starsky and Hutch, and you get the general idea.

The plot, as it is, revolves around the pursuit of a big-time Boston drug dealer. But not an explicitly nasty one, as this is a comedy after all.

Ashburn is up for a promotion if she cracks the case and shows that she can work well with others. Mullins meanwhile is passionate about her turf and doesn’t take too kindly to the arrival of a be-suited upstart.

Ashbourn and Mullins eventually learn to respect each other, not only as law enforcers, but as people too, and blah blah blah.

But if that all sounds too saccharine for you, fear not: McCarthy’s foul and funny (mostly improvised I imagine) one liners will suitably season to taste.

However, not all of the jokes hit the mark: for example, a one-off joke at the expense of an albino chap is not so much flogged, as whipped, flayed and bludgeoned to death.

Plus, McCarthy and Bullock’s chemistry is not strong enough however to completely distract from the fact that the rest of the cast doesn’t really get a look in, particularly Marlon Wayans, who is never given a chance to break out the funnies.

Mullins’ family are entertaining but don’t really get enough screen time, and the film suffers slightly from the lack of a villain, resorting instead to a handful of faceless misogynist types. Like Starsky and Hutch without Vince Vaughan basically.

On the plus side, Biff from Back to the Future pops up as a weary police chief.

Overall, this film is more fun than it looks and the comedy is sharper than the majority of mismatched buddy cop movies out there.

I’ll wager that the box office takings for The Heat will greenlight a sequel, so don’t be surprised if Bullock and McCarthy are gracing our screens again in a summer or two from now.

Conor Brennan

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Dates ‘n stuff

July 2013