A script riddled with buddy cop clichés is saved by the fun dynamic between Bullock and McCarthy in The Heat.
Traditionally speaking, the buddy cop movie is the domain of men. It’s where some of the great action movie bromances – Riggs and Murtah (Lethal Weapon), Utah and Bodhi (Point Break), Tango and Cash (erm, Tango & Cash) – have manifested amongst the sound of gunfire and action heroes cracking wise.
With the exception of Another Stakeout (where Rosie O’Donnell joined the bromance between Richard Dreyfuss and Emilio Estevez), no attempt has been made to break up the sausage factory. That’s not until The Heat came rolling into town with guns blazing.
The film stars Sandra Bullock as Ashburn, an uptight FBI agent who is forced to partner up with tough as brass balls Boston street cop Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) to track down a drug lord before his next big shipment comes in.
As directed by Paul Feig (who navigated McCarthy to an Oscar nomination is Bridesmaids) and written by Katie Dippold, The Heat embraces and plays with buddy cop clichés to varied degrees of success. While fans of the sub-genre will be able to see the same ol’ set-ups and plot points as clearly as a perp watching a phone book fly towards his face, the energy and chemistry between Bullock and McCarthy make up for it.
Yes the comedy is more miss than hit, with some jokes staying just a tod too long after the punch-line. Yet when it does hit The Heat can be quite funny, especially when McCarthy hits her stride as the cursing, fighting, drinking, criminal busting cop and daughter of one hell of a dysfunctional Boston family, where rowdy dinner table conversations are only interrupted by the reveal of the latest Jesus sports themed painting.
It would have not been an easy task for Feig to follow his commercial breakthrough (and much superior) Bridesmaids, and make no mistake that The Heat is more lukewarm than the re-hot action comedy promised.
Yet for a sub-genre that rests on the entertainment factor of its one-two punch, The Heat is a solid addition to the buddy cop cannon.