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Summer just got funnier with ‘The Heat’
“The Heat” is a funny buddy flick, starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy as mismatched cops.
Seattle Times movie critic
‘The Heat,’ with Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Demian Bichir, Marlon Wayans, Michael Rapaport. Directed by Paul Feig, from a screenplay by Katie Dippold. 115 minutes. Rated R for pervasive language, strong crude content and some violence. Several theaters.
It’s a measure of a buddy movie’s success that, when it’s over, you want to hang out with the two stars some more. “The Heat” is a standard-issue cop action comedy, elevated by the goofball chemistry between Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. Will somebody please put these two into more movies together? Could they, perhaps, remake “The Internship” and make it funny?
Directed by Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids”), “The Heat” follows a familiar path. According to the rules laid down in some screenwriters’ bible somewhere, when you make a buddy comedy, one of them has to be uptight and one of them has to be freewheeling. Bullock plays the every-hair-in-place FBI agent Sarah Ashburn, despised by her colleagues for her arrogance, who’s sent to Boston to coordinate a case involving a ruthless drug lord. Her partner there is loudmouthed beat cop Shannon Mullins (McCarthy), who’s less than meticulous about food safety and safe driving practices, and the two take — of course — an instant dislike to each other. Working together, though, they quickly learn to appreciate each other’s qualities; by the end, they’re an inseparable team.
Doesn’t sound like much, right? But Katie Dippold’s screenplay is full of funny lines, and Bullock and McCarthy are a kick together. McCarthy gets to let loose with a series of seemingly random rants — about, for example, bobby pins (Mullins wears hers “on the top of my head, like a regular person”; Ashburn’s are primly on the side) — and the two of them have an argument about Spanx that’s an unexpected highlight of the movie. (Is Ashburn wearing them, Mullins wonders, for medical reasons? Just what exactly are they holding in?) Both are gifted physical comedians: Watch McCarthy, eyes agleam, driving a car with her entire body, and an injured Bullock trying to get through an automatic door. And both have a way with a line; just try not to giggle as McCarthy denounces Bullock’s cat as “an asshole,” and Bullock, trying hard to swear (her character doesn’t usually do such things), gets all the words out of context.
There’s a weird sequence involving an emergency tracheotomy that makes no sense, and the movie (like “Bridesmaids”) is a little longer than it needs to be, but no matter; when Bullock and McCarthy are on screen, as they nearly always are, “The Heat” is good R-rated popcorn fun. (The rating’s for language and some gun violence, though it’s mild compared to most Hollywood cop movies.) There’s a discussion to be had about why this is the only major movie this summer with two women in the lead roles — but it’s hard to have a serious discussion when you’re laughing. “The Heat 2”? Bring it on.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org