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"The Heat" Film Review: Cool and Mostly Collected

the movie poster
IMP Awards

The Heat (2013)


The Heat revolves around FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) and Detective Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy), of the Boston Police Department. While possessing polar opposite approaches to law enforcement, Mullins and Ashburn are forced to work together to hunt down a drug kingpin named Larkin, and in the process contend with multiple thugs who have knowledge of his whereabouts.

Before and after her Oscar win for 2009's The Blind Side, Bullock has proven she is a proficient actress. The woman can switch from comedy to drama and back again with amazing ease. She’s been doing so for decades now. The Heat once again showcases her abilities and does it superbly. McCarthy, while not as experienced in movie acting as Bullock, still holds her own without trouble. She plays the tough, no-nonsense Mullins with the lively confidence of a film veteran. Marlon Wayans gives an understated performance in the thankless part of Levy, also an FBI agent. This is by far the most pleasant film role Wayans as ever done and Levy’s restrained nature nicely offsets the Mullins and Ashburn duo’s zaniness.

In spite of their differences, Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy have oodles of chemistry. Each of them has a completely different approach to the material, but somehow they create pretty fireworks. Not every joke is deserving of a genuine laugh. The cheap Albino joke the film overuses is never funny; it feels more childish than anything else.

Some of The Heat has that rambling, seemingly improvised type of humor that so often seeps its way into comedy films these days. It is the kind that tends to make scenes drag on, usually filled with pop culture references and littered with randomness, most of which doesn’t ever quite connect. This type of “comedy” seems to have been introduced by Judd Apatow’s directed and produced movies. It doesn’t belong in any film at any time. The only thing it does is parade the weaknesses in the script.

Ultimately though, Mullins and Ashburn are likable people and that is what makes director Paul Feig's The Heat a success. They are characters you would like to see again. Aside from a few lulls throughout, there is certainly a lot to be delighted by here. Bullock and McCarthy have struck movie silver and while it would not be completely necessary, The Heat is one of the few instances where a followup is warranted. Considering the flood of unnecessary sequels we get year-round, that is some kind of praise.