The Heat Review

Director: Paul Feig
Writer: Katie Dippold
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy
Running Time: 117 Minutes
Year: 2013

Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids was not a fluke, folks. The Heat is here as bona fide evidence. We should all feel very lucky indeed, as it features two of cinema’s finest funnygals charging towards each other, drunk, wearing dumpster-ready outfits with mouthfuls of comedy gold.

Back in 2009, Bridesmaids may have kickstarted the female ensemble, beautifully bringing together belly laughs and heart, but it suffered a little from a long running time. His latest clips the two hour mark but you won’t notice it. In fact, you’ll find yourself pummelling your fists into the armrests and demanding more. If Bridesmaids was the shot of adrenaline to the heart female comedy needed, The Heat is the confident swagger away as it wipes the vomit from its face.

Lethal Weapon, THE buddy cop movie could easily have been torn apart and stuck back together with a prettier face. The remarkable angle here is that there’s little stolen from the detritus of a largely-dead genre. Buddy comedies hinge upon The Odd Couple at first detesting each other, then realising they’ve a shared interest and putting aside differences before kicking arse. It’s a tried and tested formula that’ll rake in the punters if avoiding the opportunity to break new ground.

That recipe is thankfully recycled. Writer Katie Dippold’s penchant for wit and slapstick that extends past fart gags, and Feig’s ability to bring out the funniest performances in his actresses while keeping a heart pumping throughout allow The Heat to succeed where many have failed.

the heat sandra bullock melissa mccarthy

While the trailer may hint at an updated Miss Congeniality, the finished product has little in common bar its leading lady. Sandra Bullock’s Special Agent Ashburn is in line for a promotion but must prove herself to her boss. Setting off to Boston to work a case, she is forced to bond with local enforcement, namely, Melissa McCarthy’s foul-mouthed cop, Mullins. Here’s where the similarity to other buddy cop movies ends, because these two women aren’t two-dimensional. They’ve got it all. There’s isn’t good cop/bad cop, they each jump between both. While first impressions peg them as a goody two shoes and rebel with a cause, in due course they each bring out the laughs.

A comedy should first and foremost make its audience howl. It’s the first tenet of comedy writing. Sadly, most films charge out of the gates throwing out jokes left, right and centre before reaching the finale where everyone knuckles down and gets serious. It’s like losing a stiffie midway through a jump. Stalling and clambering to get a hold of a plot point, often the humour falls to the wayside as its simply too difficult to manoeuvre in. The Heat keeps it coming. It continues until the very end. From the opening to the final credits, the rib-tickling roaring laughter does not stop.

The Heat keeps it coming. It continues until the very end. From the opening to the final credits, the rib-tickling roaring laughter does not stop.

It’s largely due to Bullock and McCarthy, who trailblaze Dippold’s gag-ridden script toward a new frontier of comedy. Dippold, whose resume boasts a career in TV comedy Parks and Recreation, has an ear for snagging humour onto an everyday conversation without losing credibility. A routine surveillance sequence with McCarthy (which boasts a cameo from Arrested Development’s Tony Hale in a genius spot of casting) skewers the laughter right through the scene’s centre mainly because of McCarthy who’s made it clear she’s no one trick pony. There’s shades of her previous onscreen personas, mainly because the actress is on a mission to make deadpan the new black.  Standing side by side with Bullock, there could be no better a duo to unite the established Hollywood and the emergent. Bullock is at her best when acting the fool. Where McCarthy has bolted out of the gates intent on firmly becoming the brightest comedy has to offer, Bullock has shown she can pretty much turn her hand at any genre. It’s an Oscar-winner pulling faces, struggling to be cool and letting her inner idiot take over that’s most rewarding. Sure, she’s done it before. This time she’s upped her game to prove while she’s been in the ring battling away for years, she’s still got what it takes.

Arriving at a time when cinema screens are abundant with so-called comedies, The Heat is the real deal. It blows any recent competition out of the water; handling a drugs bust plot and familial subplots without putting a stop to the jokes. Dippold has already begun penning a sequel, despite Bullock’s reticence after a string of unsuccessful follow-ups in her past. Let’s hope she changes her mind. This is one franchise that I’d be more than happy to see revisited.

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gem seddon freelance blogger freelance film journalist freelance writer

About the author

Gem is a freelance writer with nine years' experience. She's written about alternative health and wellness since 2016, penning original blog posts, newsletters, recipes, and social media ads for local acupuncture clinics.