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The Heat - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
The Heat
Directing: A-
Acting: A-
Writing: B
Cinematography: A-
Editing: B+

The Heat is corny as all get-out, ridiculously contrived, arguably outright stupid -- and undeniably fun to watch. If it's worth going to see -- and it was, for me; you might be okay to wait to watch it on demand -- it's because of thoroughly winning performances by Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock, who turn out to be kind of perfect for the buddy-cop comedy thing.

This is the second major role for McCarthy in 2013, after the comparatively tepid (but also relatively funny, thanks to her) Identity Thief. This is a woman who can convincingly play different characters, but her comedic delivery is basically always the same -- it all stems, of course, from her breakout (and Oscar-nominated, no less) role in the only slightly overrated Bridesmaids (2011). What saves her, honestly, is that regardless of her lack of versatility in style, the woman is funny.

And guess what? Sandra Bullock is too. Okay, sure, she's not as funny as Melissa McCarthy. But as much crap as Sandra Bullock has been in -- somewhat inevitable for an actor of her type in a career as long as hers -- she does have an established history in comedies that actually worked. Granted, these are not art-house movies for film snobs, but so what? The woman has a place and she thrives in it.

It should come as no surprise, however, that the plot to The Heat is both preposterous and riddled with movie clichés, each supposed turn in the story nearly head-spinningly forced, existing only to allow the leads to be funny. A lot of the time the laughs effectively distracts from this, but not as much as they should. Or maybe Katie Dippold should have written a more plausible script. This is her first feature film script to be produced; maybe she'll get better. In The Heat 2, according to imdb.com. I'm not ashamed to admit it, though: I'll probably go see that one. Sometimes actors rise above the material, and these ones do, albeit barely.

Director Paul Feig (who did, indeed, also direct Bridesmaids) is clearly unconcerned with any pretense of FBI Agent Ashburn (Bullock) or Detective Mullins (McCarthy) coming across like realistic law enforcement officers. They're only ever obviously actors, having a lark, pretending. Yes, it's a comedy, but a shred of authenticity goes a long way. Every character in this movie, right down to the regional bureau chief, is just plain silly. But, okay, that's kind of the point. I found it a little distracting.

Who cares, it's a movie! Ashburn is a conceited loner oblivious to her alienation of everyone she works with. Mullins is a deeply (deliciously) crass local Boston detective whose apparent life mission is to be equal parts uncouth and unkempt. When Ashburn is sent to Boston to track down a drug lord where Mullins is busting local drug dealers, the two are forced to work together. They get on each others nerves, slowly warm to each other, you know the rest. Nothing new here.

Except, of course, for the obvious: not a lot of buddy-cop movies with women as the leads out there. Not a lot of movies with two female leads out there. It's a sad state of affairs when a movie that's nothing particularly special in objective terms needs to be celebrated just by virtue of the gender of its stars. On the upside, the stars deliver. Both McCarthy and Bullock commit, and it's arguably more impressive what Bullock does -- after all, McCarthy is an established household name well known from the beginning to be one unconcerned with being inelegant. It's a little more fun to see someone like Sandra Bullock discarding vanity. Okay, maybe blowing a nut out of her nose isn't the best example. But whatever, it made me laugh.

This is not high-minded comedy. But it's also far from the lowest common denominator. The story beats could have used far more sophistication, but the dialogue is fairly well stocked with pretty clever humor. It's easy to resist this movie but these women will win you over.

Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock bring on THE HEAT.

Overall: B
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