In the group of insane buddy cop movies, The Heat stands as one of the best. This isn’t based on its plot, which is nothing to write home about. Nor is it based on character development. It is based entirely on the silky smooth chemistry of its two leading ladies, and the work of Melissa McCarthy, who is so goddamn funny as an overweight no-nonsense police detective that without her, the movie might be a lesser one.
The charm of her performance is in her natural ability to balance loud-mouthed trash talk with heart-to-heart tear-jerking sentimentality. She is never too soppy, nor is she ever too much to handle. She gives us just the right amount of each, and makes for a truly splendid character. McCarthy is a godsend. She plays Boston Detective Shannon Mullins, and she’s one of the few actors to really embrace her appearance and use it as a tool for her comedy, much like Jack Black or Chris Farley. She doesn’t hold back on the profanities, which is okay, because in this day and age movie audiences can’t crack a smile without hearing synonyms for genitalia, and what can be done to them. Personally, I prefer the innocent humour of the past, where jokes were funny because they were funny, and not because they mashed a few bad words together to form nasty images in your head. But that’s not important. I don’t hold a degree in comedy.
She is teamed up with the Sandra Bullock character, FBI agent Sarah Ashburn, because she doesn’t want to give up a drug case she’s just dug up. Usually in buddy cop movies like this, our two heroes are forced upon each other, as in the Rush Hour movies or R.I.P.D., but Mullins and Ashburn choose to work together for fear of damaging their egos. Their meet-cute isn’t cute at all, and their sour relationship will eventually grow into one that’s sweet and cuddly. But along the way, they provide us with so many laughs and so much rich comedic entertainment that the story is no longer important. The whole drug case becomes the MacGuffin.
They’re after some guy named Larkin, whom they believe is the head of a drug ring. They push their way through the low-level minions and slowly work their way up to the more important operatives. All the while their differing styles and methods of interrogation lay waste to what should be smooth police work. Mullins is kinda trashy. She wears the same shirt for days (she turns it inside out) and prefers to throw phone books at captives’ heads. Ashburn is prim and proper. She wants a promotion, perhaps to give her some self-assurance. Her methods are not unlike the methods of Sgt. Nicholas Angel in that she refuses to utter words of poor taste, and she often corrects Mullins’ vocabulary and grammar — “We use the word interview instead of interrogate”. When an actual bust happens I doubt the distinction would matter.
The duo gets themselves into a lot of trouble, including an ill-performed tracheotomy and a poorly devised assault plan. Some moments are funny, some are very funny. And both Bullock and McCarthy never miss a beat. They are always there right at the punchline. They seldom set up the jokes, but they’re sure as hell there to finish them. The best part about their approach is that they aren’t shy to make a fool of themselves. As one bad guy comments, “You guys get less attractive every time I see you.”.
Best Moment | Take your pick.
Worst Moment | It’d have to be the tracheotomy. It just… didn’t fit in with the rest of the story, and it kinda pulled me out of the moment.