The Heat

The buddy cop film has evolved from an untested concept to a full-fledged genre all its own. They have launched the careers of Eddie Murphy, Mel Gibson and, most recently, Channing Tatum. It’s a male dominated world through and through which is why in this modern era it was time to show that women can kick down doors, get into car chases and shoot two guns while jumping in the air going “aaarrgh” like the big boys.
Director Paul Feig brings upon new dawn, The Heat, with the same spirit he did for the R-rated comedy genre with Bridesmaids, but with half the laughs. This time he has his old cohort Melissa McCarthy (Bridemaids) teaming with Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) in a buddy cop flick that is just as much comedy as it is convention.
Bullock plays FBI Agent Sarah Ashburn, the top agent in her division, whose arrogance and off-putting attitude has alienated her from everyone around her. She spends her nights watching TV, eating ice cream with a cat that isn’t even hers.
This is the case before her boss sends her to New Jersey to stop a drug-crime-thing ring. There, she has less than amiable run-ins with sloppy, charismatic Detective Shannon Mullins (McCarthy), and the two form an unlikely partnership. It’s Carlton and Will, Walther and Jack, Pinky and The Brain. One’s messy the other one’s clean. They spend most of the film playing foils to the other, mocking and joking, until a true friendship forms. The two have great chemistry and get a lot of laughs, but it feels so…done.
Respectfully, though, as the film progresses with each new lead or comedic exchange, the two leads get their proper share of development. Mullins is discovered to be angry, not by natural behavior, but racked with guilt and seeking redemption. Meanwhile, Ashburn gets some much needed social interaction with something other than an overweight tabby cat.
But for every funny exchange or remark there is an exhausted cliché or under-usage of terrific actors that could’ve provided unique laughs if given the chance. The two biggest to be left clawing at the front door are Demian Bichir (A Better Life) and Taran Killam (Saturday Night Live), the latter being a true comedic talent, but both being subjugated the groaning lines like, “You’re off this case”, and, “Just stay out of our way”. One of them ends up being the villain, and it’s a twist as inspired as their dialogue.
The film does nothing with these conventions, like the “gearing up scene” with no shots ever fired or the climax in a hospital to name a few. There’s nothing clever like the self-realization and tongue-in-cheek of 21 Jump Street. Instead, the writers seem to rely too much on Bullock and McCarthy to save the day.
Trudging to the end through a sea of worn plot devices and quickly tiresome banter, the movie attempts to compensate for the lack of violence or action with one irrelevant scene I just can’t shake. It involves Ashburn and Mullins manically trying to help a choking victim, escalating to the point of cutting open his throat and trying to remove the food. It comes out of nowhere and proves to diminish the characters’ intelligence while just being strangely violent. I mean, I like a little blood, but, for the love of God, if you need comedic violence just throw a pie at Ken Jeong or throw him down some steps. He seems to be getting a lot of work, wouldn’t be hard to convince him.
Given such a strong director and actors, The Heat takes what could’ve been a strong kick to the buddy cop balls but instead provides a cliché ridden, banter heavy, mid-range comedy. McCarthy shines throughout, and Bullock manages to keep up, but clearly can’t handle everything she brings to the table. It’s a shame; a really viable, female driven cop flick could’ve given Mel Gibson and the Lethal Weapon franchise a run for their money. But, in the end, the crazy people always win.

Grade: C+

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