The Heat | Paul Feig | 20th Century Fox | June 28, 2013
Director Paul Feig is the man who directed the surprise comedy hit Bridesmaids and is responsible for creating one of my favorite shows of all time, Freaks and Geeks. He’s also directed episodes of shows like The Office (he did “Niagra” & “Goodbye, Michael”, arguably the shows best 2 episodes), Parks and Recreation, Arrested Development, and Mad Men. So the guy knows a thing or two about crafting comedy, as well as keeping a fair bit of sentimentality. Feig’s latest film, The Heat, starring his Bridesmaids star Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock leans more towards the wacky comedy seen in Bridesmaids rather then the sentimentality of Freaks and Geeks, but there is still surprisingly a little beat of heart to The Heat that made it more than just just another stupid comedy.
The film stars Sandra Bullock as uptight FBI Special Agent Sarah Asburn. She’s got talent when it comes to her work but lacks social skills and puts off everyone she works with. When there’s a promotion available for the taking, she needs to prove her worth to her boss Hale (Demian Bichir) who is well aware of her talent, but her problems working with others gives him doubts that she would be the right fit. So as one final test he sends her to Boston to head the investigation for drug criminal Larkin. Of course, she is partnered with someone as equally wacky and difficult with Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy). She plays the stereotype of a hard-nosed Boston local, only she is a skilled cop who uses less conventional methods that are everything against the way that Ashburn does her job.
This sets up an awkward team between the two that is your standard buddy buddy cop movie, only starring two female leads. The best part of the film is the first 1/3 when we see these two meet for the first time and battle it out for who will be taking the lead in the investigation. These two butt heads and use all kinds of foul language and physical humor to bring out the laughs and it’s impossible not to bust out the laughs. McCarthy steals the show in similar fashion to Bridemaids. Her Mullins character is a gritty cop who will do anything to get it done, and seeing her interact with the uptight Asburn who Bullock does a good job with.
Marlon Wayans plays a FBI Agent in a somewhat serious role that was actually one of his better things..ever. Michael Rapaport plays Mullins brother, and its always good to see him. Then you have Dan Bakkedahl and Taran Killam as DEA Agents who are also working on investing the Larkin case, and want Ashburn and Mullins out of their way. There’s also a killer cameo from Arrested Development’s Tony Hale in the beginning.
The Heat loses some steam midway through but it picks up in the 3rd half. This is the type of comedy that will be very hit or miss (the Dennys scene was just beyond absurd), but when it hits, its gut-busting fun.
It may not be anything that you haven’t seen in buddy-cop movies, but with two females fronting the lead and bringing major laughs, it still offers us a somewhat fresh perspective. If you’ve seen the “Regional Holiday Music” episode of Community you may unfortunately be able to predict who ends up being the bad guy due to the set up, which unfortunately happened to me. Is The Heat predictable? Maybe, but it also has a bit of heart to it that was unexpected. This is due to the true acting talents between the two leads who have more to offer than just stupid laughs. This was an impressive feat that I didn’t expect, and it made The Heart more than just a silly puddy of a comedy.
I went into The Heat with moderate expectations for a few cheap laughs but left with a smile, and I wouldn’t mind sitting through it again. Paul Feig handled this movie with grace, and proved that a good script, good actors, and a little heart can go a long way. It proved that female-led comedies are more than possible when they’re in the right hands. Is it silly? Yes. But it embraces this and uses it for some killer laughs.
The Heat is a big silly bit of fun that will have you smiling and rolling your eyes at the same time, in the best way possible.