“The Heat” Movie Review


     It’s clear to me audiences are not expecting anything original this summer, being as though director Paul Feig’s “The Heat” has proven a rousing box office success.  Starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, the film is constructed of each and every buddy cop cliche seen in every film of it’s kind from “48 Hours” to “Lethal Weapon”.  Missed are opportunities to cash in on some spot on casting of lesser known actors, instead rolling from scene to scene with our two leads both verbally and physically sparring with each other as well as the bad guys they’re after.  Feig, who previously scored big with 2011’s “Bridesmaids”, plays it safe by recycling a narrative structure we’ve seen many times before, making for a been there done that feel.

     I’m now convinced Melissa McCarthy is a one note actress who is incapable of differentiating herself from role to role.  Having watched her in a lead role just a few months ago in “Identity Thief”, she appears to be comfortable with constant profanity laced insults and physical comedy which normally exploits the fact she is obese.  I would be curious to know if the average McCarthy fan would still think she was funny if she wasn’t overweight.  I’d be surprised if she is able to carry many more films like this one and still be successful. I’d compare her performance here to Chow, played by Ken Jeong, from the “Hangover” films.  In the first two films in the trilogy, Chow was featured in spurts and had several truly funny moments.  Where the filmmakers went wrong with him was in the third installment, an awful film, where he was featured as essentially the main actor.  He wears on you to the point his antics aren’t funny anymore.

     Likewise, McCarthy was hilarious in “Bridesmaids” as her performance stole every scene she was in and supported the leads to perfection.  Her problem in “The Heat”?  Way too much McCarthy.  Are we supposed to consistently laugh just because she’s using the F-word every time she speaks?  Not helping matters is Sandra Bullock, who simply does an imitation of herself from “Mrs Congeniality”, playing the standard “fish out of water” character who must transform herself in order to fit in.  First time feature writer Katie Dippold doesn’t help matters with her by the numbers script and lack of inventive dialogue.

     The plot of the film is as simple as you would expect.  Mullins (McCarthy) is a cartoonish street cop who does nothing by the book and has the suspects she deals with believing she is crazy (think Riggs).  Ashburn (Bullock) is an FBI Agent sent into the Boston area to investigate a drug ring.  She’s by the book, dresses professionally, has plenty to lose, and thinks her new partner is crazy (think Murtaugh).  The duo moves from scene to scene, each putting them in situations where Mullins can be way over the top, while Ashburn remains reserved until she is prodded to step out of her shell and be more like her streetwise partner.  The villains in the film are paper thin retreads from every other cop film you’ve ever watched.  The other cops in the film are bumbling and are given nothing interesting to say, especially Marlon Wayans, who has several scenes that are a waste of his talents.

     The missed opportunities I spoke of earlier were in reference to the first scene featuring Mullins’ Boston family.  Led by comedian Bill Burr, the initial scene will have you laughing, but then it ends and the family is never utilized again.  I thought this group as constructed had a chance to rival the similar family in “The Fighter”, but the filmmakers choose not to take advantage.  I felt this scene had the potential to be as comedic as the family dinner scene in Eddie Murphy’s “The Nutty Professor”, but it seems the scribe had a touch of writer’s block and reverted back to the mindless plot.  In other words, there was potential here, but Feig didn’t deliver this time.  With the inevitable sequel on the way, hopefully he can recapture some of the magic that made his first film a comedy classic.  GRADE: D