The Heat

by Padraic Maroney

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday June 28, 2013

A scene from ’The Heat’
A scene from ’The Heat’  

What is summer without some funny ladies proving that guys shouldn't have all of the fun? Re-teaming with her "Bridesmaids" director, Melissa McCarthy continues her assault on the big screen and this time has enlisted Sandra Bullock for backup. "The Heat" is a female buddy cop film that plays by the rules, but still brings in big laughs.

From the opening credits, "The Heat" already gives off a sense of dj vu, as the film borrows from the old '70s cop films. It doesn't get much better, using a stale plot and containing plot twists more obvious than mold growing on a week old cheese sandwich.

Have you heard this one before? A strict, by the book FBI agent (Bullock) who doesn't play well with others is in pursuit of a big promotion. But in order to get the promotion, the agent in question must play nice with a new partner who is a loose cannon (McCarthy) who plays by her own rules. The twist, however, is that this time they are ladies! The gender reversal offers a few quips about the inequality of being a woman in the law enforcement field, but not much else. There is an obligatory dance montage thrown in, though, for good measure.

It's a common complaint among critics to hear that a film doesn't break new ground, right? But the problem with that complaint is that not all films can do so. "The Heat" doesn't set out to mine new territory and with rapid-fire laughs, it honestly doesn't need to try. This may be old hat, but it's also a well-put together film that, at times, is hard to hear because the laughter is too loud.

The combination of Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy is a one-two punch that audiences are going to have a hard time refusing. The duo have a fun chemistry between them, as they have both proven in the past that they will do whatever it takes in order to get a laugh. With the pair both skilled at physical comedy, the punch lines are evenly split up between Bullock's reserved delivery and McCarthy's anything goes, more rowdy spirit. McCarthy is larger than life with dialogue that must have included the direction to add as many curse words as possible.

The script does have a few issues that can't be ignored. The bickering between the odd couple pairing in the beginning lasts longer than it should. While it's a way to illustrate the differences between the two leads' characters, it grows tiresome during the first part of the film. Once they settle into a resigned partnership that involves bantering, rather than straight bickering, the real fun is able to begin. They may not always agree throughout the rest of the film, but at least the bantering is done playfully.

Outside of the leading ladies, everyone else in the film is underused. Both Marlon Wayans and "Saturday Night Live" player Taran Killam are almost distracting in their roles, as they don't do much throughout most of the film. Wayans is Bullock's Boston FBI contact, but never gets out from behind his desk until just before the credits are about to roll. Killam, meanwhile, pops up sporadically as a DEA agent but hardly utters a word.

Director Paul Feig seems to be having as much fun behind the camera as the ladies are having in front of it. He knows how to pace the film just right, so that the film doesn't lag too long between punch lines. He's even helped to assemble a cast that includes loads of cameos, including stand outs by NKOTB member Joey McIntyre as McCarthy's brother, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" star Kaitlin Olson as a Bulgarian drug dealer and Tony Hale as an unfortunate perp caught by McCarthy early in the film.

"The Heat" may borrow heavily from the movies that have come before it, but this is one of the few that offers female leads. Being that those leads are Bullock and McCarthy is what really makes the film shine. You would be hard pressed to find a better female comedy team than these two who could easily balance the comedy and gunplay. These ladies might be the law, but this is one film where you won't want to observe the right to remain silent!


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