Filled with buddy-cop clichés and a convoluted storyline, The Heat only works because it delivers consistently funny scenes with its two leads. Paul Feig directs here and, while this one doesn’t come close to what worked so masterfully in his 2011 effort Bridesmaids, he knows how to enable actors to play off one another in a scene, even if they go on for too long. The film runs close to two hours, which becomes a bit exhausting, particularly for a comedy. Yet it works because I found it undeniably funny, even hilarious at times, and I can’t ignore the fact that even if the film has problems in its progressions, I enjoyed the experience while it lasted.
The film centers on Ashburn (Sandra Bullock), an FBI agent who’s a bit too cocky for her own good; she’s up for a promotion, but must catch a drug lord in Boston. There, she teams up with Detective Mullins (Melissa McCarthy), who doesn’t play by the numbers nearly as much as her new counterpart. Clichés run rampant amidst their early dialogue, and the situations that arise ask them each to break their molds. It’s standard stuff. But McCarthy is a genuine joy to watch here, delivering her best work since the aforementioned 2011 breakout. She’s so hysterical, even outside of her physical humor that’s become a staple; she’s quick, aggressive, vulgar, but above all funny.
What Feig did in 2011 was remarkable: he showed a lot of misogynistic movie executives around the world that women are, in fact, funny. A lot of times they’re even funnier than men. And here he does that again, although his film isn’t as strong and ensemble-based. At times, the movie wants to address misogyny in the workplace and encounters it, very rarely, in an effective manner. The film’s conclusion is also far too long for its own good, even extending to demonstrate that Ashburn may need a love interest after all. These are independent, strong characters, and when they demonstrate that they’re compelling and even hilarious. The film works only during those scenes; that makes for a hit-and-miss, but still entertaining experience.
Grade: ★★★ (out of 5)