Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Heat

Directed by Paul Feig.
2013. Rated R, 117 minutes.
Demian Bichir
Jane Curtain
Marlon Wayans
Michael McDonald
Spoken Reasons
Jessica Chaffin

The FBI's Agent Ashburn (Bullock) is super smart, solving cases with a Sherlock Holmes like intelligence. Her work has her up for a big promotion. Unfortunately, a lack of any discernible personality is her holding her back. No one seems to like her in the least way. Her boss is worried this wouldn't translate well to a position of leadership. For a chance to prove herself, she's put to work trying to bring down a major drug trafficking ring. Against her wishes she's forced to work with local cop Detective Mullins (McCarthy) who is driven and passionate about crime fighting, but highly abrasive in case you haven't seen the trailer. What we have here is a typical wunza buddy comedy. You know, wunza straight-laced by the book colorless FBI agent and wunza manic, fly by the seat of her pants f bomb, dropping slob of a cop.

With the formula pretty much set in stone, The Heat dutifully goes down the checklist of buddy flick tropes. The bland Ashburn is the butt of most jokes and the one Mullins is constantly trying to change in order to get her to loosen up and enjoy life. Through all the initial hatred of one another and completely opposite approaches to the same task, there is, of course, a friendship being formed. McCarthy is there to give us the comedy by verbally abusing every person in her vicinity. Occasionally this does manage to hit the funny bone, particularly early on. After a while we know what's coming so it loses its sting and just becomes noise to suffer through. She's clearly a character cut from the cloths of Eddie Murphy's Axel Foley and Mel Gibson's Detective Riggs. Unfortunately she takes only their most basic traits without the charm of either. They are then fused with McCarthy's brand of potty mouth savagery to form a character we may laugh at occasionally, but don't particularly like. Its a shtick better in short doses as in, This is 40, rather than a steady stream of it. One thing that sort of gets us on her side is her family. They are the one deviation from the formula we have. They have completely made her an outcast and she has to suffer through tongue lashings from them. It's a trick to earn some sympathy for her and it works. However, the best thing to come out of these scenes is her brothers' girlfriends injecting themselves into family business. They give as good as they get.

If Mullins is a dumbed down combination of Foley and Riggs then Ashburn is that of Taggart and Murtaugh from the same movies. She exists merely to be appalled by and eventually bond with Mullins. Her comedic task is to attempt things the way her partner wants her to. Again, this is an occasionally amusing tactic that more often just reminds me of fun stuff we've seen in other, better films. Bullock does with the role requires of her. It just doesn't seem to take much effort. There seems to be no challenge in standing off to one side while McCarthy rants and raves. Her character is just an uninteresting woman. In fact, she's so boring I've written these last two sentences just to lengthen a paragraph in which their really is nothing else to say about her. Well, maybe there is one slightly interesting thing about her. She has a cute potential relationship with Agent Levy played by the refreshingly subdued Marlon Wayans. Still, even this is not an earth shattering romance.

Whether or not you like The Heat boils down to one question: do you find it funny when Melissa McCarthy makes lots of noise and cusses like a sailor. If the answer is yes, you're probably thinking I'm some sort of prude, or a movie snob and dismissing this entire review. Fine by me. You may as well stop reading now and go watch it. Put another way, did you like Identity Thief. If the answer is no, you have likely been nodding in agreement as you read. That's more than fine by me. In this case you should probably skip it. It's only going to annoy you, anyway. Proceed accordingly

MY SCORE: 4.5/10


  1. I laughed a lot during this. I don't know if it was because of McCarthy or what, but I just found myself chuckling many, many times. Still though, I can see why some wouldn't be too fond of this. Good review Dell.

    1. It had a few pockets of hilarity. I'll grant you that. Just not nearly enough for me.

  2. I actually almost died laughing during my initial viewing of the movie, but there was definitely some magic in the air that night (my wife and I saw this theatrically, which is a small miracle). Catching it on HBO months later, I was much more cool to the whole thing. I like McCarthy, I do, but I hated the shit out of Identity Thief.

    Bottom line? I have no idea what's going on.

  3. I actually like McCarthy, too. She just didn't do it for me in this one.

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