mon 22/07/2024

The Heat | reviews, news & interviews

The Heat

The Heat

Female cop duo provide plenty of laughs

Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy as by-the book Sarah Ashburn and throw-away-the-manual Shannon Mullins

The basic set-up for The Heat is familiar – two mismatched cops are thrown together on a case and have to find a way of working together despite their differences in social background and methods – only in this case the officers are female.

Add to the mix that the two actresses playing the roles are playing to type - loudmouth Boston street cop Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy, almost reprising her Bridesmaids role) and prissy, super-bright but socially inept FBI agent Sarah Ashburn, as essayed by Sandra Bullock in any number of her films.

The Heat, written by Katie Dippold (who writes on Parks and Recreation) and directed by Bridesmaids director Paul Feig, is, then, in many ways unoriginal, but no less fun for that, and even the self-indulgent scenes that neither drive the plot nor add characterisation to the leads can be forgiven because he throws in a few curveballs to upend stereotypes. For example, while Bullock is tall and slim and McCarthy short and fat, it's the latter who gets all the sexual action in the movie.

Ashburn's colleagues find her almost impossible to work with as she's so much better than they are and unafraid to let them know it. But she lives alone in a sterile apartment, and even the cat she snuggles up to belongs to her neighbour. Mullins's colleagues also find her difficult, but that's because she's a maverick who works alone and outside the training manual - she interrogates drug dealers with a gun aimed at their crotch - and is so uncompromising that she shopped her own brother, a drug dealer. The upshot is that her family have rejected her, leading to a fantastic sight gag as Mullins's mother (Jane Curtin in a quietly effective role) drives past her in the street flicking her the finger. Her apartment meanwhile is rancid and she keeps an arsenal in her fridge rather than food.

Ashburn is promised a promotion if she can crack a major drugs case with Mullins. Along the way they have to battle not only each other's egos, but wildly different approaches to the job (as the film's subtitle has it “good cop, mad cop”), inter-departmental rivalry with the Drugs Enforcement Agency, and any number of sadistic drugs barons.

There is some fine slapstick comedy from the two leads and their physical differences are used well - a wordless scene where they fight to get through a door first is worthy of the greats of silent comedy - and there's a terrific scene when Ashburn meets Mullins's dumbass family, who assume she's male-to-female transgender.

I could have done without a boring bonding-in-a-bar scene (pictured above) which includes an unfunny drunken dance sequence, and the one in which Ashburn performs an emergency tracheotomy is seemingly included for the sole purpose of giving the film a bloody gross-out moment. And while the uncovering of both women's vulnerabilities and their eventual bonding are predictable, these storylines are done with subtlety and unfold naturally. The important thing is that there are lots of laughs to be had, both from a sassy script and the two leads (who improvised many of their scenes), while able support is given by Spoken Reasons as Boston street dealer Rojas, leant on (literally) by Mullins, and Marlon Wayans as Levy, Ashburn's FBI colleague.

Feig moves the action along nicely, throws in some great action sequences and storyline twists, and the interplay between Bullock and McCarthy is a pleasure to watch. It's easy to see why The Heat 2 is already being planned.

  • The Heat goes on UK release today


A wordless scene where they fight to get through a door first is worthy of the greats of silent comedy


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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