Before we begin, I’ll be honest and say that I knew I was going to enjoy this film and was prepared to like it against my better judgement. Sandra Bullock, check. Sandra Bullock playing another FBI agent a la Miss Congeniality, check. Melissa McCarthy, check. Melissa McCarthy playing another bawdy, inappropriate sidekick a la Bridesmaids, check. Director of Bridesmaids, check. From the off I knew that there were going to be stars and character types that I had previously enjoyed, but whether or not The Heat lived up to it’s hype was to be determined over the next one hour and fifty-seven minutes.
I’ll say now that the film is not as good as either Miss Congeniality or Bridesmaids, with the former resting much higher on my nostalgia chart and the latter being held up on a pedestal for all future female driven comedies to reach towards. The Heat does, however, have enough of Bullock’s awkward screen presence and comic timing and McCarthy’s new found talent for being down right vulgar to create a pleasant incarnation of the two that feels refreshing to the audience without giving them too great a feeling of deja vu. The plot is nothing more than a generic FBI drug bust run around town, but this kind of ‘buddy’ film lives and dies solely on the chemistry of its stars and I’m pleased to report that the spark between Bullock and McCarthy is live and kicking. More good cop/mad cop than good cop/bad cop, the film’s strength lies in the numerous set pieces and sharp, crude, hilarious dialogue between the two (much of which I would wager was improvised). There was no ground breaking characterisation going on here, Bullock reverted to the Gracie Hart template we know and love from thirteen years ago and McCarthy’s character could literally have been transported from the smash hit of 2011. In truth it felt like one of those cross-over episodes that network television shows sometimes undertake, but the fact is, it simply didn’t matter.
Perhaps the one area that the film could be picked up on is the time that it took to tell a relatively simple story. At just three minutes shy of two hours, it felt like the thirty minutes following the obligatory introductory scenes were quite unnecessary, with the majority of audience laughter coming, and coming relentlessly, in the last fifty or so minutes of the picture. I feel the director is guilty of a little overindulgence here, where one set piece of McCarthy’s character Detective Mullins would have sufficed to show the audience that she is a hard ass, no nonsense son of a gun, we were given three. Same goes for Bullock’s Agent Ashburn and her penchant for being generally very condescending and unlikable. I can forgive and forget, however, as what preceded this thirty minutes of overkill was an hour of so of perhaps the most enjoyable comedy I’ve seen on the big screen since, yep, you guessed it, Bridesmaids. There was nothing clever about it, no overly intelligent wit, just down right hilarious slap stick comedy involving stab wounds, drunken antics, the F word and an outrageous amount of prejudice towards albinos.
So overall The Heat gets a three out of five from me. It’s funny, simple as that. Doesn’t try to be anything other than an enjoyable summer movie, and most importantly it doesn’t want to be. There is no pretension here, no higher level that the film makers want you to access through metaphor and symbolism. Sometimes all you need is a funny lady punching another funny lady in the boob.