FEARLESSLY CRUDE FLICK THE HEAT PROVES THAT GREAT CHEMISTRY BETWEEN THE LEADS CAN MAKE AN AVERAGE COMEDY A GUTBUSTER FOR ADULT EARS

Director:  Paul Feig

Starring:  Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy

Studio:  Twentieth Century Fox

Length:  1 Hr 57 Min

Rated:  R

F.B.I. agent Sara Ashburn and Boston Police Detective Shannon Mullins don’t just come from different worlds, but are polar opposites when it comes to police work as well.  Ashurn is a straight-laced, clean-cut, well-dressed example of professionalism and efficiency.  She can recite the rulebook backwards and forwards as well as highlight the achievements on her considerable resume, which she repeatedly does to the chagrin of her F.B.I. colleagues.  But socially, she’s clumsier than a drunken three-legged giraffe and her definitively awkward social skills combined with her defensive arrogance distance her from everyone around her.  She’s so lonely she regularly kidnaps her neighbour’s cat for companionship.  Mullins on the other hand, is a sloppy, crude, profane force of nature with all the subtle charm and grace of a wrecking ball on speed.  Over the course of the movie, she throws watermelons, telephone books, knives and plenty of punches and bullies both cops and crooks alike.  The only reason she’s tolerated in her precinct is because she knows the streets better than anyone and fills more jail cells than any of her co-workers.  The two even find themselves working the same case for different reasons and there’s immediate, hilarious friction between the two.  But while their polar opposite characters clash on-screen, it’s soon apparent that Bullock and McCarthy shared immediate, natural chemistry during filming and that’s what lifts The Heat from being a potentially disappointing she-buddy cop movie to a hilarious comedy for grown ups.

Special Agent Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) is dispatched to Boston to bring down a drug lord no one’s even seen.  It’s difficult finding witnesses because anyone who’s gotten on the wrong side of the mysterious underworld figure is found a piece at a time. Ashburn is sent because she’s an expert interrogator who, in the words of her boss, “gets inside people’s heads.”  Her incentive is purely professional because the F.B.I. is dangling a promotion in front of her, promising her a sweet job if she does well.  Following a trail of suspects, she comes across a low-level drug dealer nabbed by Boston Police Detective Mullins (Melissa McCarthy).  Turns out McCarthy isn’t just possessive of Boston’s streets, but of her suspects as well and even her precinct captain avoids going near her collars.  The two become reluctant partners and soon Mullin’s family, especially her ex-con brother, find themselves in the crosshairs.

Watching McCarthy and Bullock on-screen you get the feeling that the majority of what’s coming out of their mouths was pure improv, the two actresses feeding off one another and allowing their characters to just flow out, using the script like a schematic more than anything else. The two intuitively allow the friendship between their characters to grow naturally, using their few similarities as the foundation of a bond.  Ashburn is a former foster child while Mullins has a loud, crass Boston family who hates her because she was the cop who arrested her brother.  Ashburn hasn’t had anything resembling a date in years while Mullins goes through men and one night stands like Captain Kirk goes through green alien strippers, yet she’s just as lonely as Ashburn.   Both are friendless but they share a relentless devotion to their jobs, albeit with different motives.  This makes the eventual friendship more natural, and the laughs more genuine.  Half way through the movie, you forget your watching partners arguing and start to believe your watching two sisters hurling insults at each other, and it’s all a testament to the easy relationship Bullock and McCarthy must have shared during filming.  The nightclub scene alone is nearly worth the price of admission, where Ashburn’s horrific attempts at being seductive are balanced out by Mullins’ impersonating an NFL linebacker, spewing one liners and obscenities the whole time.

Director Paul Feig is smart enough to sit back and allow his female leads plenty of slack to work their magic, and you have to think that the outtakes and deleted scenes on the home release a few months from now will be worth more than the actual movie.  The plot is pretty standard fare with few surprises, but it’s just a clothesline to hang a pair of excellent comedic performances on.  The supporting cast is strong, whether it be Marlon Wayans bright young agent Ely or Thomas Wilson’s exasperated captain Woods, everyone is pretty much there to get arrested, get smacked around or to observe Bullock and McCarthy have at one another.

The humour is pretty adult without being pornographic or obscene, and your definitely leaving the kids at home for this one.  Even some of the scenes they wanted to show off in trailers had to be cleaned up a little for TV audiences.  If you’re turned off by swearing and profanity, then seeing The Heat is a waste of both time and money, but if you’re looking for some guilty laughs and maybe need an escape from the saccharine kiddie movies for a few hours, then this is one summer comedy definitely worth checking out.

Shayne Kempton

TURNING UP THE HEAT

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