* (out of 5)
June 28, 2013
Sandra Bullock as ASHBURN
Melissa McCarthy as MULLINS
Demian Bichir as HALE
Marlon Wayans as LEVY
Michael Rapaport as JASON MULLINS
Jane Curtain as MRS. MULLINS
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: Paul Feig
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
As I prepare to eviscerate “The Heat” in this review, I figured I should make a few confessions and disclosures first.
#1: I hated “Bridesmaids.” I know it was a huge hit and a critical darling, but I found it boring and unfunny with horrible characters that grated on my nerves.
#2: While I don’t hate Melissa McCarthy (in fact, I find her to be quite funny and talented), I am tired of her go-to obnoxious character she’s been playing since “Bridesmaids” was a breakout success.
#3: I have no problem with profanity, but if you use it, it had better be for fucking effect or at least fucking clever.
Whew! Now that I’ve got that off my chest, on to the review.
“The Heat” is getting a lot of buzz because it’s being heralded as the first buddy cop movie starring women. This actually isn’t true (“Feds,” starring Rebecca DeMornay and Mary Gross came out in the 80s, and movies like “Taxi” and “Theodore Rex” were arguably buddy cop pictures that featured a woman in one of the buddy roles). However, buddy cop films with women are rare enough, so let’s go with that assumption.
However, for me, gender doesn’t come into the picture. I didn’t hate “The Heat” because of some misogynistic nonsense. I hated it because it’s not funny, tedious and poorly written. Just like a dozen other bad buddy cop movies – including “Hollywood Homicide,” “Cop Out” and pretty much anything starring Martin Lawrence – it’s a mess.
The story follows Special Agent Ashburn (Sandra Bullock), an FBI whiz kid that no one in the agency likes, who is assigned to Boston to track down a drug kingpin. There, she has to partner with Detective Mullins (McCarthy), a maverick, borderline insane cop who will do anything to protect her streets. What are the details on the kingpin they’re tracking down? Never mind because it’s irrelevant to the purpose of the film, which is to put these two obnoxious characters in a shoe box together and shake it until they fight.
The key to any buddy cop movie is to have likeable characters, and this is the core of the failure of “The Heat.” Bullock is shrill and irritating, playing a social pariah who really has no reason to be so abrasive. She is supposed to be brilliant at her job, yet she’s so out of touch with normal human behavior that it’s impossible to believe she can order coffee from a barista in the morning, let alone foil a drug ring.
McCarthy is as obnoxious as they come. Her go-to position here is being as loud and profane as possible. I didn’t like her from the moment she showed up on screen, and by the time the film gets around to giving her any positive aspects to her personality (which is scant at best), I had lost interest long ago.
And then there’s the profanity. Like I said, I’m all for the use of adult language, but there needs to be some finesse and creativity with it. Any ten year old can drop an F-bomb and giggle at it. It takes expert writing to phrase it or present it in a creative way. Clearly those involved in the film felt McCarthy (and at one point, Bullock) vomiting out four-letter words is funny in and of itself. The sad fact is that it isn’t. Compare these profanity-laden scenes with alternate “family friendly” takes in the trailer. The movie is no more funny than the trailer without the f-bombs. (Though, spoiler-alert: The trailer isn’t very funny either.)
Paul Feig, who normally makes compelling and entertaining television, falls into the same trap he did with “Bridesmaids.” He lets comedians go on too long with a joke. Improv is fun and can be wickedly entertaining, but if it’s purpose is to simply extend a joke, hoping it will become funnier with time, it just doesn’t work.
Too often throughout this movie, McCarthy tries to milk a joke dry, and then continues to yank on its tit until it’s raw, red and painful.
So, while Bullock and McCarthy have a fine degree of chemistry, they are drowning in bad material. With a story that half of the time makes little sense and the other half of the time is so cliched, it could have been written by a computer, “The Heat” is as cold as they come.