– Add one uptight, know-it-all FBI agent (Sandra Bullock.)
-Dump in a brash, rough cop (Melissa McCarthy.)
-Mix, but do not expect ingredients to blend well.
-Pour in alcohol, and they become best friends. They start kicking ass and taking names, literally.
-Sprinkle in a fight to add some spice to their new friendship.
-Crack in an injury to remind them how much they love and respect each other.
-Pepper with a some great one-liners.
-Add a dash of slapstick comedy.
-Bake for 2 hours and get a tasty but predictable comedy.
This didn’t ruin the plot of “The Heat” for you because you’ve seen this movie before. Whether the agents in question are Tom Hanks and a large dog or two Beverly Hills cops and Eddie Murphy, this movie is about as original as the butter on your movie theater popcorn.
But you’ve never seen this film before with two female leads. Yes, it’s sad but true that it took Hollywood until 2013 to realize that women can helm an action comedy not about dating or weddings, and that they can do it just as well, if not better, than men.
“The Heat” works because McCarthy is willing to push not just genre limitations but crass humor to the point where you might choke on your popcorn. It’s evident she got her start in improv because her rule seems to be “go all out and wait for someone else to rein me in,” and fortunately, director Paul Feig (also behind “Bridesmaids,” let’s have him direct everything) has a very loose grip. Whether its sexual innuendo or chasing perps down with her junker, she adds a spontaneity and edge to an otherwise hackneyed genre. Unfortunately, she also frequently overshadows Bullock, who is a decent comedian in her own right but not nearly as wild as McCarthy. However, without Bullock to balance her craziness, McCarthy might be overbearing.
“The Heat” seems to mark a golden age for McCarthy, and though she does deserve all of the praise she gets, future directors need to be prudent. McCarthy, who has made her reputation by playing over-the-top characters, is dangerously close to becoming just another a celebrity comedian who always plays some version of herself. Shannon, her character in this film, has a back story and specific quirks, but she mostly feels like McCarthy doing her schtick. If you like McCarthy’s signature belligerent delivery, this is good news and makes a generic comedy worth watching, but McCarthy needs to make sure she doesn’t get caught up in the over hype.