buddy cop'? I think of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in the Lethal Weapon series, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys, Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte in 48 Hrs. What's the common link? For lack of a better description......it's usually dude buddy cop movies. Until now that is!!! Here we go with 2013's The Heat.
Working out of the branch office, FBI agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) is a very capable agent who's closed her fair share of cases, but all her fellow agents despise her. A supervisor position has opened up, and Ashburn wants nothing more than that promotion but because of her all-around popularity her chances of getting is are slim. She's tasked with going to Boston to help take down a new drug supplier on the scene, a man with no witnesses against him and little evidence. Where to start? Ashburn meets Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy), a hard-edged police officer not too interested in physical appearance or...well, following the rules most police officers live by. Ashburn wants to do things her way but Mullins knows Boston, her sources and the streets. Forming an unlikely partnership that's more of a rivalry, they jump head first into the case, if they don't kill each other first.
Is it a bad thing if you call a movie 'predictable'? I suppose it can be depending on the description, but I don't intend it here. This buddy cop movie with female cops from director Paul Feig (written by Katie Dippold) is very good, very funny and very entertaining from beginning to end. Audiences certainly liked it this past summer, 'Heat' earning over $200 million in theaters. It is R-rated so in the vein of Bridesmaids -- also starring McCarthy -- we get a darker, filthier and far more foul-mouthed comedy with female actresses and comedians getting a chance to be funny. Novel concept, isn't it? There's cursing, raunchiness, some surprising (if not truly graphic) violence and plenty of laughs along the way. Went in hoping for a funny movie if nothing else but came away impressed with a very funny movie with lots of memorable bits and lines.
It is a buddy cop flick though so let's talk about some buddy cops. That type of movie -- male, female, monkeys -- and their successes or failures depend almost entirely on the casting and chemistry. Do you like the buddies? It's hard not to like the pairing here, Bullock and McCarthy showing off that effortless back and forth banter that elevates Dippold's script a notch or two just by their line deliveries. Bullock's Ashburn is the buttoned-down, suit-wearing, all business, all professional agent who does things by the book. McCarthy's Mullins is all about results, wears sweat pants at basically all times, lives in a filthy apartment, isn't worried about making people happy, and generally just has fun with life. Yes, the Odd Couple of Cops. You can tell they like working together, and that's nothing but a positive. The duo is in virtually every scene together so that ain't bad either.
My issue with previous McCarthy parts has nothing to do with whether she's funny or not. She is. She's hilarious. But in Identity Thief and her supporting part in This is 40, it just goes too far. Her improvised bits go on to the point that it's painful to watch. That being said.........ready for a 180 degree change.......'Heat' avoids all those issues. Sure, a fair share of jokes are in horrific taste, but with the right dosage, horrific taste can be funny. McCarthy is as good at physical comedy as just delivering a line, a real double comedic threat. The story is predictable because we know they'll butt heads, see they have to work together, and then become the unlikeliest of friends. The jokes keep things moving in an episodic story that follows the case. The end game, the twist, the reveal, it's all pretty unnecessary. We know where things are going. The jokes are funny, and the purpose is to let Bullock and McCarthy have a ton of fun together. Do we really care who the drug dealer is? Nah, just go along for the ride.
The rest of the cast is solid if unspectacular, filling in the parts around our buddy cop duo in the spotlight. Demian Bichir is Hale, Ashburn's FBI supervisor, with Marlon Wayans playing an FBI agent in Boston aiding the case. Dan Bakkedahl and Taran Killam are two DEA agents following their own evidence on the case, Spoken Reasons is Rojas, a dealer Mullins keeps running into, Michael McDonald is Julian, the right-hand man to the drug supplier, Jane Curtin (underused) and Michael Rapaport as some of Mullins' family, and Thomas F. Wilson as Captain Woods, Mullins' much-maligned precinct commander.
Just a good funny movie. If it doesn't rewrite the comedy or buddy cop genre, so be it. Sit back and enjoy Bullock and McCarthy having a ton of fun together.
The Heat (2013): ***/****