Review: The Heat

Director Paul Feig’s follow-up to Bridesmaids reunites with its scene-stealing star Melissa McCarthy for a buddy cop movie starring Sandra Bullock.

The movie is in the same vein as recent high-concept comedies that are seemingly both raunchy and filthy-mouthed yet weirdly accessible and generic, with a fantastical view of police work, and human behaviour in general. But The Heat succeeds where other comedies like Identity Thief fail by being consistently funny with sharp dialogue all throughout.

The movie is really just a vehicle for the interplay between the two leads who bounce off insults and defensive tones at speedy pace. Bullock’s FBI agent is transferred to Boston for a case, and muscles in on McCarthy’s turf pissing her off, but they’re forced to pair up to take down bad guys.

The plot is perfunctory, but populated by funny characters, dialogue and incidents. I’ll avoid examples to save you spoilers, but there are some real gems buried in this comedy; mostly dialogue-driven via McCarthy’s brutal and to the point put-downs of anyone remotely in her vicinity, and with Bullock’s straight-laced slapstick and skittish behaviour. There are several laugh out loud moments that had me squirming, and it’s probably because I’m a dude and there is liberal usage of violence at men in this tale.

The Heat is a mainstream comedy by a much-needed female voice, writer Katie Dippold, so naturally it passes the Bechdel test with flying colours, going so far as to literally shoot dudes in the groin. Overcompensating? Maybe, but it’s still funny as hell. It’s good to see two female characters treat men around them as irritants at best and disposable at worst, but I couldn’t help feel that the movie veered too much into fantasy land with the exploits on screen.

Grounding it just a tiny bit more in reality would have made the power of their gender more meaningful. Otherwise it’s a bit like saying the only way these women could be capable is in this unrealistic universe where the pair are constantly having guns pointed at them, and yet men are just rambling their plans rather than just pulling the trigger. This particular example happens too many times.

Regardless of the suspension of disbelief, the wacky shit that goes down makes it all the more funnier, and so I can recommend checking this out if there’s no other pressing comedies on your to-watch list. It’s a bit like the female version of that modern classic The Other Guys, making a good double-bill.

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