The flailing buddy action movie genre has finally come storming back to life with "The Heat," a laugh-out-loud hilarious romp that finds an inspiring new comedy team with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. Even though the two actors are quite capable of creating laughs on their own, there is something magical about how each of the performers find a chemistry in the film that catapults them together to a whole new level.
"The Heat," for the lack of better words, is on.
Bullock and McCarthy immediately escape the built-in trappings of "The Heat," which pairs two woefully mismatched law enforcers together in an effort to bust a murderous drug lord in Boston.
Bullock plays FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn, a painfully uptight and strictly by-the-book do-gooder who's been ostracized by her colleagues because she's too just too intuitive for her own good. On the cusp of a promotion, Sarah is sent from headquarters in New York City to Boston to unravel the mystery of the drug lord -- who nobody has ever seen -- and if she succeeds, she will have earned her keep. It doesn't take long, though, before Sarah butts heads with the gutsy, foul-mouthed Boston Detective Shannon Mullins (McCarthy), who quickly marks her territory and insists Sarah goes about the case her way.
Naturally, an instant rivalry begins, but as time wears on, the two discover they'll need each other more than they'll admit, and must find a way to turn up the heat on the bad guys together because they have nobody else they can trust.
See my review of the film with Pat Evans on "KARE 11 News at 11" below.
Bullock and McCarthy bring two distinctly different comedy styles to "The Heat," and the mixture works beautifully. Bullock, the effervescent "Miss Congeniality" star, plays her FBI nerd to a squeaky clean"T", and her character's back story nicely unwinds as the movie rolls along. McCarthy, on the other hand, comes roaring out of left field, and takes all of a minute before her rogue street-smart detective lets a half-dozen F-bombs fly -- the first batch of approximately 200 of them peppered with crudity that are amply spread throughout the film.
Both Bullock's and McCarthy's comedy efforts are so seamless in "The Heat," that it's hard to tell if they're improvising or whether they're going off the smart script by "Parks and Recreation" writer and occasional guest star Katie Dippold. Whatever the case may be, Dippold has provided a brilliant foundation for Bullock and McCarthy to build on, and they make the best out of each and every scene, whether they're together or apart.
No matter the source, one thing that's for certain is that nearly every joke works, and there are so many hilarious moments that it's difficult to remember them all. Lump in Bullock's and McCarthy's natural gifts for physical comedy -- and there's plenty of that here -- and you get the complete package.
While it shouldn't come as a big surprise that Bullock and McCarthy deliver in "The Heat," anybody who doubted director Paul Feig's skills as a director after "Bridesmaids" can put away their doubts for good. As he clearly demonstrated with "Bridesmaids," Feig has a gift to weave in human stories in between the laughs.
And while "The Heat" might not have quite the emotional core that "Bridesmaids" did, Feig still manages to hook you in and make you care for his characters, even though McCarthy's character puts Mel Gibson's whacked-out Martin Riggs from "Lethal Weapon" to shame. Shannon might be crazy, but she also comes from a crazy family, which figure prominently into the film, too.
Heck, Feig even manages a little compassion involving Shannon's character, too, in a brief moment near the end that can't help but make your eyes well up with tears.
If the buzz of a second "Heat" is true, it can't come soon enough. Until then, enjoy this "Heat" as it burns at the top of the register.
"The Heat," rated R, 3 1/2 stars out of four.
See the trailer for "The Heat" below.
The Star Tribune's Kristen Tillotson gives the movie 3 1/2 stars, saying Bullock and McCarthy are 'as tough as any male pairing of the genre — Gibson and Glover in 'Lethal Weapon,' Murphy and Nolte in '48 Hours' -- but they bring a strong 'girlfriends' feeling to the table."
Chris Hewitt of the Pioneer Press mostly praised "The Heat" but gives it 3 stars because he feels the story looses heat "because Feig worries too much about the 'crime' element of 'crime comedy.'"
Bring Me The News film critic Tim Lammers is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and annually votes on the Critics Choice Movie Awards. Locally, he reviews films on “KARE 11 News at 11” and WCCO Radio. As a feature writer, Tim has interviewed more than 1,000 major actors and filmmakers throughout his career and his work is syndicated nationwide.