film review: The Heat (2013)

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film review: The Heat (2013)

The buddy cop comedy is a staple of cineplex. It’s bread and butter, take two mismatched funny guys throw them into a cop car chasing bad guys and hilarity will ensue. Or at least that’s the formula. But how does that work when it’s two women?

That’s what we get here with The Heat. America’s sweetheart (she’s still one of those right?) Sandra Bullock is an uptight FBI agent tasked with catching a high level drug dealer in East Boston. Little does she know her biggest problem will come in the form of Melissa McCarthy, a tough, crude, no holds barred (literally) beat cop who demands to have a piece of everything that goes on on her turf.

Hilarity ensues.


I have to be fair to The Heat. It’s an idea that looks good on paper. And it’s not terrible in its execution either. The issue with it, and it’s the same issue that every buddy cop comedy has, is that you gotta want to be one of the buddies too.

They’ve got a good grounding – I have a huge amount of respect for Sandra Bullock. I think she’s a funny lady. I loved Miss Congeniality, and lordi know she doesn’t seem to have aged since then. We’ll call Miss Congeniality 2 an unfortunate misstep. Melissa McCarthy as well is the comedienne of the moment. Love her or hate her, she’s carved her own niche and, up until now, it’s been working.

Where The Heat falls down is how they’ve tried to put them together. Bullock’s FBI agent is too uptight, she’s not funny, she’s boring. And McCarthy’s just downright scary. She’s the same “do and say anything” type she always is but in a position of power it smacks of abuse, it’s over-powering. Plus they wait too long for the bonding scene. Two hours is too long for a comedy anyway and making us wait for so long for the buddy part… well it just throws the audience off.

It’s also missing that emotional redemption part. Where we all learn about each other and understand why McCarthy’s Mullins is so… territorial and why Bullock has no friends. Actually no, we’re not missing it, it’s just unconvincing. They sweep through it, landing on the side of tacky. I actually think they did a better job with McCarthy in Identity Thief than they do here and that’s definitely a poorer movie than this.

That said, The Heat isn’t a bad film. If you want to prove that the ladies can match the men in the buddy cop comedy stakes, this is a great start. Paul Feig (director of Bridesmaids) and Katie Dippold (writer of Parks & Recreation) manage to translate the genre effectively and the casting is perfect – I can’t imagine who else you’d put together for a buddy cop comedy in 2013 – it’s more a question of balance.

There are also some great laugh out loud scenes, Bullock and McCarthy are genuinely funny ladies and that makes it through, a credit to Feig… though you can’t escape one or two nonsensical and presumably ad-libbed scenes that probably could have used more time in the edit suite. They don’t quite manage to work the bromance that you see in some buddy cop films, but again, that’s the balance problem.

It’s a shame, The Heat come pretty close to being a good comedy… but as so many comedies prove, it’s not just about getting the right people, it’s about knowing what to do with them.


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