If Dirty Harry were shorter, heavier, sassier and a woman, then he might have been Melissa McCarthy in The Heat, a very funny new film that irreverently puts a bullet in the head of stereotypical cop-buddy movie conventions.
On its surface, The Heat may look like a run-of-the-mill 1980’s style action-comedy à la Lethal Weapon, Bad Boys, Stakeout, Rush Hour and even Turner & Hooch, where two police partners with completely different personalities have to work together to bring down the bad guys; but this film not only pays homage to that genre, it skewers it, roasts it, adds some delicious seasoning and serves up something that is completely fresh and hilarious.
The always delightful Sandra Bullock plays straight-laced FBI Agent Sarah Ashburn, a nerdy professional who is all about procedure and climbing the organizational ladder. In order to get her next promotion she’s assigned to catch a murderer who is killing and dismembering drug dealers in the Boston metropolitan area.
Melissa McCarthy is Shannon Mullins, an unconventional (to say the least) Boston Detective who takes the job of fighting crime very seriously, but not so much with her personal appearance or any other form of professional decorum. She’s so earnest in her work that she’s even arrested every member of her family at one time or another.
The two opposites end up on the same side of trying to catch the killer and are forced to work with each other despite their differences, but the plot is really just an excuse to set up situations for Bullock and McCarthy to play off of each other in a non-stop series of gags that are side-splitting funny.
The cast of The Heat also includes Marlon Wayans as Agent Ashburn’s Bureau contact, Michael Rapaport as Mullins’ jailbird brother, Saturday Night Live alumni Jane Curtin as Mullins’ Mother, and Tom Wilson (Biff from the Back to the Future films) as Mullins’ Police Captain, who at one point gets a verbal shellacking from McCarthy that would even make Biff blush.
“Dirty” Harry Callahan would be jealous of the law-in-their-own-hands antics that Mullins & Ashburn get away with in this film, but it’s all done with a saucy tongue-in-cheek; and although a lot of this is just plain dumb, the script by Katie Dippold (of Parks and Recreation fame) intelligently spoofs every aspect of this well-worn genre.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Melissa McCarthy is the Lucille Ball of her generation. This woman is hilarious and the pairing of her with Sandra Bullock as the straight (wo)man is inspired casting. Bullock is no slouch herself and is also very funny in this film, but McCarthy steals the show.
The Heat is directed by Paul Feig, who also did the hit comedy Bridesmaids, and this is the funniest and one of the best movies I’ve seen this summer. Fair warning though, this film is Rated-R and if you are easily offended by “F-bombs,” you’ll probably want to skip this one. That being said, I applaud the filmmakers for taking a bold stand and sticking with the more adult-themed material.