The Heat is an odd movie. It’s a buddy cop film with two women at the center. That alone should be a breath of fresh air thanks to the alarming lack of female led films this Summer (or at all), but unfortunately, The Heat tries to distance itself from any sort of originality thanks to its lack of creative character work, well thought out plot, or jokes that don’t involve appearance.
But hey, The Heat is a comedy isn’t it? It shouldn’t matter if the plot is generic as long as the jokes are funny and the chemistry between the two leads is enticing, right? Unfortunately despite it’s notable attempt at something different, we’ve already seen The Heat numerous times before.
Watching The Heat is like warming a day old slice of pizza in the microwave. You remember what it tasted like the night before, and it sort of looks the same, but all you get when you bite is a rubbery mess.
Director: Paul Feig
Release Date: June 28, 2013
It’s hard to type this brief synopsis without feeling that it’s been regurgitated over and over, so stop me if you’ve heard this before. Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) is a straight laced, lonely, over-achieving FBI agent that doesn’t get along with her coworkers due to her arrogance. Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) is a brash, hostile detective who throws herself (quite literally) completely into her job. The two are then forced to work together in order to stop a new drug lord in Boston. While the plot itself is generic, there is a notable attempt to alleviate this by bringing in fresh perspectives.
I want to get this point out of the way first since it’s been bugging me so much. The two character archetypes presented here have been done to death (brash loudmouth and quiet prude) but, because they’re being portrayed by women, the film pretends as if the concept is fresh. It’s hard to explain exactly what the film is trying to do with its premise (which is why it’s been bugging me), but it’s like someone is telling I should be happy with a rundown car just because someone threw a new coat of paint over it. Sure it’s terrible that it has taken this long to have a buddy cop film with women at the forefront, but that doesn’t mean that something that lacks as much effort as The Heat should get praise for it. In fact when you inspect where most of the comedy comes from, we’re supposed to pity these two women.
Sandra Bullock does the best with what she’s given, but she ends up becoming Miss Congeniality once again. And while I’ve always found Sandra Bullock’s brand of awkward physicality charming, there’s only so much she can do, “Oh she’s falling over again, LOL.” The most unfortunate turn out in The Heat is Melissa McCarthy. I always held out this hope that she would shine in a lead role since she’s done so well in each supporting role she’s had (Mike & Molly, Bridesmaids, The Hangover Part III), but it still seems that the proper material for McCarthy is still out of her reach. McCarthy’s Mullins still plays second fiddle to Bullock, as she’s more of the obnoxious side character, and more of the “jokes” involve her use of expletives (for the first 30 minutes, McCarthy is absolutely grating). And there are plenty of them. If you sat there and counted how many times the expletive “f*ck” was used within the film you would have counted all of your fingers and toes six times over.
When reviewing a comedic film, I always like to criticize the origins of the jokes. In The Heat, about 70-73% of the jokes stem from the appearance of the film’s two leads. Whether or not this is a result of the film being led by women (who’re thankfully surrounded by incompetent men and the one romantic interest. Yes, there’s a romantic interest too), or a result of Paul Feig’s script (he wrote Bridesmaids too, and that should indicate his sense of humor), is still in question. For example, one of the most relied on gags in the film is Bullock’s hair. You see how in each of the images in this review her hair is slightly askew? That’s the film’s visual cue for comedy. Every time the film goes into “comedy mode” rather than action, Bullock’s hair is frayed. It’s like The Heat’s very own laugh track.
The worst thing about The Heat? There’s very little action for the two women. They’re always being captured, or injured, or outsmarted. Although I’ll give props for The Heat not resulting in a big shootout for its climax, part of me would’ve loved to see Bullock and McCarthy at least be badasses for a little while. They deserve it. Bullock gets one cool line, but even that involves marriage. It’s a shame, really.
The Heat is a generic buddy cop film through and through. You could have replaced the two women with other tropes in the genre (white/black, veteran/rookie, police/cops) with very little issue. It’s not the best in its genre, but it’s not the worst either. You’ll find some laughs here as long as you don’t care what you’re laughing at, the dialogue is mostly filler (and laced with expletives for the sake of an R rating), the action is unfortunately absent (and whatever action does take place has bad CG), the soundtrack feels like filler as it plays through every inactive moment instead of adding substance to any of the scenes, and worst of all, Bullock and McCarthy couldn’t even be badasses in their own cop movie.
The Heat won’t warm you up at all. Wear a sweater.