In 2011 the R rated, Paul Feig directed, Bridesmaids was perhaps the funniest movie of the year. This blew many peoples’ minds because it had almost an entirely female cast (what? Women can be funny?)
This wasn’t really news, but it was the first major summer movie that had a female cast and was an R-rated comedy. The movie did so well, it paved the way for other R-rated female-driven comedies. The Heat is essentially a buddy-cop comedy. That is nothing new in summer movie fare, and is really a formula almost as old as movies themselves. The best example is always Lethal Weapon (even though my personal favorite is Showdown in Little Tokyo – but that isn’t supposed to be a comedy).
The Heat teams Sandra Bullock’s uptight FBI agent with Melissa McCarthy’s wild and crazy Boston street cop.
Agent Ashburn (Bullock) is an FBI agent doing everything technically correct and looking to get a big promotion in her DC office. She rubs everyone around her the wrong way, despite getting results. Her commanding officer sends her up to Boston to follow up a lead on a drug kingpin. While there, she encounters Officer Mullins (McCarthy) a loud and brash Boston detective, who knows the streets really well. The two are forced to team up to flush out and bring down the drug kingpin. Really – that’s about it for the plot.
Castwise, this movie is pretty perfect.
· Sandra Bullock (Ashburn) has always been good at comedies, and it’s nice to see her getting to do one that isn’t a rom-com. She’s great in this, tough in this, and really hilarious in this. The scene where she finally starts cursing is very funny. It is a little reminiscent of her character in Demolition Man. I loved that movie, maybe I should watch that again.
- · Melissa McCarthy (Mullins) is the new comedy queen of the moment. She is great in this movie, but it is really just her character from Bridesmaids in a slightly different role. I don’t have a problem with that yet, but it could get tiresome if it goes for more movies. Where she shines the brightest is the small moments of drama; the concern over her brother, the genuine passion for her job. She’s a much better actress than people give her credit for, and (making this prediction now) when she finally does decide to do a heavy duty indie drama or dramedy – she could win an Oscar. However; in this, she is very good at the comedy, and again – I just wanted the gag reel to play over the credits. She’s so good at improvising, that I wanted to see all the other takes! Also – her husband Ben Falcone shows up again in a brief cameo.
- · Mexican actor Demian Bichir plays Ashburn’s beleaguered commanding officer. He’s tired of her, but knows that she gets the job done.
- · Marlon Wayans shows up as the straight man in this movie. Strange, but he gets almost no loud comedy moments (unusual for him), but he comes off as mature and sweet. How old does that make me feel? I remember when he was too young to play with his brothers on In Living Color.
- · Michael Rapaport plays Mullins’s brother who is recently out of prison and decides to fake going back to a life of crime to help her catch the bad guy. It’s a little understated for him, but you can watch Deep Blue Sea again if you want to see him bigger. In fact, everyone playing other members of the Mullins clan does a great job – and really Boston-s up the characters. Jane Curtin, Joe MacIntyre, and Nate Codry are the ones I recognized immediately. They reminded me of the family in the Fighter, but slightly better behaved.
- · Spoken Reasons (yes, that’s his name) attempts to establish himself as a young comedy actor by playing Mullins’s street informant, Rojas. He does a lot with his role, and really seems to be working hard at being noticed.
- · Taran Killam from SNL plays a DEA agent partnered with Dan Bakkedahl’s albino DEA agent. They have some fun moments, mostly at the expense of albinos. Taran Killam is really talented and I expect to see more from him in the future.
- · Mad TV alum Michael McDonald plays one of the top villains, Julian. It’s very hard to take him seriously as anything after watching him play Stuart all those years.
There are a couple of things I found strange in this movie. There is a strange subplot that never really gets developed in which Ashburn keeps stating how she was responsible for catching a killer on a major case, and Mullins mentions she thought he might have been innocent. This keeps getting mentioned throughout the movie randomly, until at the end Ashburn states the case needs to be re-opened. I’m not sure what that subplot had to do with anything, maybe just illustrating how Ashburn’s character has grown? Another thing I found odd is the overwhelmingly Boston-y accents of Mullins’s family when we encounter them. And yet, Mullins herself doesn’t have an overwhelming Boston-y accent. That’s a minor thing, and I’m sure not something I was supposed to notice.
All in all – it’s really funny, it’s not nearly as funny as Bridesmaids, but it doesn’t really feel as original as Bridesmaids either.
6 out of 10. Gained points for the 70s cop-TV show opening title sequence. Lost points for the over the top cursing – really the only thing that made this an R. Gained points for Thomas Wilson (Biff from Back to the future) as Mullins’s boss.
Bonus Video 1: Demolition Man.
Bonus Video 2: Marlon on In Living Color
Bonus Video 3: Cast Interviews