REVIEW: The Heat

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The Heat
Directed by: Paul Feig
Written by: Katie Dippold (screenplay)
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Demián Bichir and Marlon Wayans

The Heat is the second (and funnier) of the two comedies this year that are dependent on the outrageous on-screen persona that Melissa McCarthy debuted in Bridesmaids.  That it reunites her with that movie’s director, Paul Feig, is largely what makes it better than Identity Theft.  It’s a fairly standard buddy cop movie in terms of the characters and the story, but instead of men it’s women.

This is only important to the movie because it addresses gender in the workplace as another obstacle that the two main characters must overcome.  Balancing out McCarthy’s hot-headed, take-no-prisoners Boston detective is a cool-headed, anal-retentive FBI agent played by Sandra Bullock.  The two have good chemistry together, though McCarthy runs away with the movie and all Feig really has to do is keep up.

Unlike Bridesmaids, there is no one to really match her or balance out her extreme physical comedy.  She is more than up to the task of carrying the movie on her own, but it’s less simply because the characters don’t really build off of each other.  Though there’s no real problem with the way Bullock plays Agent Ashburn, it’s just that Katie Dippold’s script gives McCarthy’s Detective Mullins nearly every punchline.

There is a nice balance of both physical and verbal comedy here, which is something that’s quite rare in modern comedies.  The way McCarthy throws her body around and erupts into every situation is truly extraordinary.  She is among the finest comedic performers working today, and her gift with improv deserved better sparring partners.

Other than Bullock, there are really just other law enforcement officials, family members and villains.  None of them really stick out, and they exist mostly as set-ups to a grand, vulgar punchline.  Despite wanting the movie to challenge McCarthy a little more, what’s here is still by far one of the funniest Hollywood comedies of the year.  Their investigation is uninteresting, but their investigating is hilarious. Even when it clumsily succumbs to third act fatigue, it’s still funny.

Grade: C

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