Heat, The (2013)
Director: Paul Feig
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Sandra Bullock, Ben Falcone
Plot: Uptight FBI special agent Sarah Ashburn is paired with testy Boston cop Shannon Mullins in order to take down a ruthless drug lord. The hitch: neither woman has ever had a partner -- or a friend for that matter.
Genre: Action / Comedy / Crime
Rating: M18 for pervasive language, strong crude content and some violence.
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: MILD)
The Heat is a strange name to give to a film. By golly, what does it even mean? But nothing beats the bizarre sight of a prim and proper Sandra Bullock spewing out a whole sewage-load of profanities to a group of bemused FBI officers. Well… maybe that is what The Heat is all about.
Directed by Paul Feig, who made the runaway comedy hit Bridesmaids (2011), this action-comedy in the conceptual vein of the buddy cop movie 21 Jump Street (2012) picks up from a slow and uninteresting start, and ends with a crowd-pleasing bang, meaning that you shouldn't be surprised to see a sequel within the next couple of years.
Bullock plays arrogant FBI agent Sarah Ashburn, who is hell-bent in getting a major promotion she so thinks she deserves. To prove herself to her boss, she is sent to Boston to unearth a drug operation. All is well until she meets a feisty and extraordinarily uncouth local cop named Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy), who gets on her nerves pretty badly.
Or is it the other way round? And yes, that's who Sarah learns all those permutations of foul-sy language from. Expect a lot of obscene humour and scenes that are utterly unwatchable because of its sheer... crudeness and ludicrousness, including one involving aiding a poor guy who is choking on his food.
Also expect some conventional storytelling with little intrigue, though the chemistry between Bullock and McCarthy helps to even the road, ensuring the two-hour journey to be at the very least watchable, occasionally entertaining, and towards the final act, frequently hilarious.
Still, I must say that McCarthy steals the show once again, as she did in Bridesmaids, proving that she fares better with a partner, or a bunch of chatty ladies, rather than headlining a movie with a guy ala The Identity Thief (2013). Bullock does well, though she takes time to ease into her role. She eventually makes a full transformation in that bizarre sight briefly described above. And then everything falls into place in the final act.
In the subgenre of buddy cop movies that range from the light-hearted action-comedy like Rush Hour (1998) to the gritty-serious like End of Watch (2012), The Heat ranks as an above-average entry. It is freshened, however, by having two ladies doing what guys normally would do. Not a game-changer this one, but Bullock and McCarthy can be judged to have finally leveled the playing field. Let’s see what audiences think. Cue box-office opening weekend figures.
Verdict: The chemistry between Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy takes some time to sparkle, hitting the right notes occasionally in this conventionally crude action-comedy.
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