Sandra Bullock plays FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn who is chasing a promotion within her New York City Department. Ashburn has a stiff personality who strictly follows the rule book with the expectation that it will advance her career. However, nobody else in her department likes her and Ashburn has little life outside of her job as evidenced by her ability to pack her life in four boxes and her borrowing the neighbour’s cat. When she is sent to Boston to take down an unknown drug lord, she is paired with her complete polar opposite in Detective Shannon Mullins, played by Melissa McCarthy.
Directed by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids), this film has little in common with Bridesmaids other than Melissa McCarthy’s spotlight shining brighter this time. The Heat has the feel of a drama, filmed with a serious tone rather than as the action-comedy it is; following the standard of a typical Bullock film rather than McCarthy one. It’s this type of presentation that allows McCarthy’s dialogue to be as sharp as it is, cutting through more than it would if the visuals were more quirky and lenient. Imagine outrageous dialogue from films like Bridesmaids or Horrible Bosses filmed in the serious and steady style of something like CSI or maybe Hope Floats. The humour relies on the delivery.
Mullin’s loud-mouth, over-the-top persona is the highlight of the film and is evenly spread throughout, giving the movie wonderful consistency. As the film progresses, Bullock’s Ashburn slowly grabs onto that and delivers some worthy moments as well that gives McCarthy plenty to play off of. The two may have initially been an odd pairing but they work quite well together. There are instances of recurring comedy attempts aside from these two that attempt to pad out of the humour but they ultimately get buried and are ultimately deemed unnecessary. At times there are gaps as the story fleshes itself out for flow and while they are necessary for the plot itself, these deviations move the focus away from the comedy aspect sometimes a bit too far. It’s notable that these deviations never enter into romantic territory as films starring women have a tendency to do. Feig deliberately wanted to avoid making this a romantic comedy in any way and he succeeded in delivering a solid action comedy.
The Heat isn’t the comedic genius of Bridesmaids but it delivers its own drink-spitting laugh-out-loud moments. Melissa McCarthy kills it in this film and delivers what could likely be the most hilarious role in a movie for the year.