Riding high off his commercial and Academy Award nominated hit Bridesmaids, Paul Feig is back with The Heat, a female driven crass cop comedy with a perfect pairing of Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy and a surprising number of laughs.
Feig’s comedy starts off on a funny but familiar step. We’re introduced to Bullock’s character, Ashburn, as well as introduced to her cockiness and her arrogance that makes her the least liked officer in her district. This straight-laced and over confident personality surely clashes with McCarthy’s Mullins, a cuss-filled renegade who isn’t afraid to get physical with crooks and to push gentlemen away who have oddly fallen head-over-heels for her.
The first few scenes with Mullins made me feel uneasy. Her aggressive and violent behaviour (all done comedically, mind you) made me have a flashback to McCarthy’s annoying and gratingly unfunny lead role in Identity Thief.
However, to my surprise, Mullins has a lot of very funny things to say. Half of the credit goes to Katie Dippold’s sharp script, but the other half easily belongs to McCarthy’s quick-witted tongue and skill to improvise. When under the correct direction, her ability to roll with the comedic punches is fairly astounding. With Bridesmaids, there was a hint of commendable teamwork between McCarthy’s butch Megan and Feig’s direction. Here, it’s apparent that the two have a chemistry that guarantees laughs.
McCarthy and Bullock are very good together as they perform a usual “good cop, bad cop” routine, but as Mullins’ assertiveness begins to break Ashburn down (again, all done comedically), an enjoyable on-screen relationship forms causing the two actresses to have fun with each other during the amusement but also play off each other’s emotions during the more emotional beats as well.
Dippold’s script fooled me a couple times with what exactly the major climactic turning point was. She has a few of them during blow-ups between Bullock and McCarthy and while they make these cop movie cliches more rounded, I wouldn’t have minded if the film moved along faster.
To which we arrive at Paul Feig’s kryptonite: editing. The Heat is really, really long. Not as long as Bridesmaids and its pointless scenes of endless improvisation, but The Heat walks a very thin line at times. For instance, when we hear Mullins tell Ashburn “we’re going to the bar!”, I almost felt like standing up and announcing, “chalk up another 20 minutes onto that runtime!”
It turned out this montage was one of the more memorable scenes in the film, which was where I was surprised. However, if Feig decided to save some of these cutaways – as well as some other elongated exchanges and physical puns – for an inevitable “unrated” DVD/Bu-ray, his movie would’ve had a tighter pace and it would’ve given movie goers even more incentive to purchase the film. I would’ve loved if Feig cut some of those extra jokes involving Mullins’ very loud and confrontational Boston family. A little of that clan goes a long way.
As someone who left the theatre sighing an underwhelmed “meh” when I left Paul Feig’s 2011 hit, I was pleasantly smiling from ear to ear on my way out of The Heat. It’s still a pretty good two hour comedy that could’ve been a great 100 minute laugh-fest, but it’s got all the right stuff audiences are looking for in a mainstream comedy this Summer. And, it’s consistently funny through and through. Even the bloodier gags!