At least that’s what the directors of “Blades of Glory,” “Land of the Lost” and “Semi-Pro” thought. Popular with audiences, he was allowed to run riot in a series of so-so films resulting in the bleak middle period of his career where manic energy replaced humor in his films.
“The Heat” suffers from the same affliction. Melissa McCarthy is funny. She knows how to deliver a line, and was one of the most memorable characters in “Bridesmaids” but between “Identity Thief” and this new film with Sandra Bullock, she is off the chain, Ferrelling her way through these comedies, but not bringing enough of the funny along with her.
“The Heat” is an odd couple, buddy cop movie set in Boston. Sarah Ashburn (Oscar winner Bullock) is an uptight, lone wolf FBI agent who has closed more cases than anyone else at the Bureau. Her colleagues don’t respect her, however, thinking that she’s arrogant and competitive.
When she is assigned to a case in Boston she bumps heads with Shannon Mullins (McCarthy), a tough-talking street cop who spends as much time berating her co-workers as she does arresting bad guys.
They form an unlikely alliance, teaming up to bring down a murderous drug dealer.
This kind of dynamic is as old as the movies, so you’d hope for the performances to breath some new life into the film’s withered lungs. Instead we get the same old from two good performers.
“Bridesmaids,” also directed by Paul Feig, worked because no matter how outrageous the situation the characters were based in some kind of reality. They may have been exaggerated in a Commedia dell’Arte kind of way, but at their core each character felt somewhat grounded and the humor in the film arose from the situations and audience’s relationship with the people on screen.
In an effort to create real characters “The Heat” adds in some family dynamics and backstory, but even then, it feels more like a plot device than an authentic attempt to deepen the onscreen dynamic.
“The Heat” has two capable stars with good chemistry—McCarthy is crass and likeable; Bullock is charming and likeable—but their broad characterizations of Ashburn and Mullins never achieve any kind of bond. Instead they push for laughs that often don’t appear.
There are laughs—less funny are some hacky jabs at the expense of an albino character— but with this pedigree there should be more. McCarthy is responsible for many of the chuckles, but the gag to giggle ratio is 5 to 1. McCarthy doesn’t do anything here we haven’t seen her do before, and her foul-mouthed, female Zach Galifianakis schtick is getting old. She has more to offer than this, and before she turns into “Land of the Lost” Ferrell I hope she tries something new.
“The Heat” is a mild summer diversion, a formulaic movie that once seen will be instantly forgotten.