Uptight, clean cut FBI special agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) is paired with testy, messy Boston cop Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) in order to take down a ruthless drug lord. The hitch: neither woman has ever had a partner -- or a friend for that matter.
Review by Louise Keller:
It's not as funny as I hoped, but there's a great dynamic to the odd-couple combo of Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy as the stitched up New York FBI agent and slap-happy Boston cop with the foul mouth. What works is the pairing and McCarthy's free-wheeling brand of humour, complete with expletives and ball-busting action is a great contrast to Bullock's playing it straight. TV screenwriter Katie Dippold's screenplay is not original or clever enough, but ambles on a predictable route while Bridesmaids director Paul Feig does a fair job of keeping everything together, leaving the comic performances by its two talented stars to carry the film.
In the opening sequence, we see first hand how Bullock's earnest, hoity-toity Ashburn gets her man - with zealous book-learned know-how and a prissy attitude. She can sniff out drug-dealers and their stash more successfully than sniffer dogs and makes sure everybody knows it. McCarthy's Mullins also is successful when it comes to cuffing the locals crims, but uses intimidation tactics and brute force. As to be expected, when Ashburn and Mullins are teamed together to uncover a drug ring, it starts badly. They take an instant dislike to each other; Ashburn's 'sugar not stick' philosophy is not compatible with that of the impulsive, physical Mullins, whose refrigerator is crammed full of weaponry.
The nightclub scene in which Ashburn tries to inconspicuously bug a suspect's mobile phone is quite funny with Bullock's physical comedy at its best, legs and arms flying after her severe wardrobe having been dramatically snipped in the Ladies Room. McCarthy simply throws it all out there with no restraint - language, violence and a risky hit-and-miss approach that finds its mark much of the time. Mullins' dysfunctional family is a nice, wacky invention albeit not well enough developed and the impromptu tracheotomy in the diner is totally off the wall. Blood alert!
With a sequel already on its way, the filmmakers clearly have a scent for its commercial success, although let's hope that next time around, the screenplay has a little more originality and cohesion. As a result, the contrast of the black zaniness in the context of this odd-couple buddy movie will have the potential for more bite - and heat.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
There is so much juice in this concept that the filmmakers are already working on the sequel - at time of writing (June 25, 2013). Most of the juice comes from Melissa McCarthy as Shannon the foul mouthed, ballistic tempered cop without a shred of self restraint. It's a great character and MM does it full justice. Paired with the strait laced Sarah in the form of Sandra Bullock, it's an odd couple buddy cop movie made in heaven ... almost. Maybe a buddy sitcom. At half an hour, it would rip your bloody guts out. At almost 2 hours it looks more like a one note joke that doesn't know whether it's a black comedy or a plastic comedy with lots of swearing.
As we know, good comedies are based on serious subjects, but chasing a drug lord in Boston is not a serious subject; it's a device with which to propel the comedic action. And the comedy becomes so repetitive that the joke wears thin.
All the same, there are plenty of laughs, but no satisfaction. The gags are often cruel, but that's black comedy for you. There is an abundance of snappy, smartarse dialogue from McCarthy, much of it darkly funny and subversive, politically incorrect and generally distasteful. That's the point. Shannon is unreconstructed bad; but the filmmakers want it both ways and so she has to discover her inner softie.
To match this transformation, Sarah has to loosen up and get down and dirty. It's a predictable pitch, and some of it actually works. Some of it doesn't, including Shannon's overheated family clashes, the confusing story about drugs runners and Shannon's brother, and the flimsy intrusion of Sarah's superiors. Trying too hard to be a police procedural, a crime thriller and a street wise black comedy about opposites is a trifle too ambitious. Not for those who are easily offended, The Heat is not hot...not cool...kinda lukewarm.
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HEAT, THE (MA15+)
CAST: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Tony Hale, Marlon Wayans, Taran Killam, Thomas F. Wilson, Damian Bichir, Kaitlin Olson
PRODUCER: Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping
DIRECTOR: Paul Feig
SCRIPT: Katie Dippold
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert Yeoman
EDITOR: Jay Deuby, Brent White
MUSIC: Mike Andrews
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jefferson Sage
RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 11, 2013
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.