Believe it or not, there are some people out there that truly believe women are not as funny as men. In fact, the comedy genre, especially of the R-rated variety, has long been a boys-only club. That is until Bridesmaids hit theaters in 2011 to widespread critical and commercial success. Bridesmaids proved that female comedy leads could stand toe-to-toe with their male counterparts and best them in both wit and physical folly. The film was clever, relatable, hilarious, and heartfelt. It’s this stage that Bridesmaids director Paul Feig and breakout star Melissa McCarthy step onto for The Heat, a buddy cop comedy starring McCarthy and Sandra Bullock. The flick is pleasant if predictable, garnering a few genuine laughs from ambitious performances, but ultimately The Heat plays too cheap to recapture the magic of Bridesmaids.
FBI Agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) is intelligent, arrogant, and uptight. Boston police officer Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) is explosive, clever, and downright foul-mouthed. When Ashburn is sent to Boston to investigate a large drug distribution ring, she crosses paths with Mullins, whose brash approach and limited wardrobe couldn’t differ further from Ashburn’s calculated style and countless pantsuits. Despite their differences, the pair team up to investigate the drug lord together, and then all of the stuff you’ve seen a million times before in Lethal Weapon movies happens.
Don’t get me wrong, The Heat is funny. Melissa McCarthy again proves that she is the best physical comedian out right now, man or woman. She attacks the part of Mullins with absolute vigor, emphasizing the hard consonants on every four letter word she can think of and loving every minute of it. Bullock also holds her own, quietly turning in another great comedic performance in the “straight guy” role. The pair have great chemistry and timing, but The Heat never tries to impress the audience with anything other than that. It sets out to be Starsky & Hutch with two great actresses, but because of its uninspired script, it ends up more like Rush Hour 3.
The Heat is a perfectly acceptable comedy that relies too much on profanity for the hell of it and Boston accents to be memorable. With the talent involved, one can’t help but compare this film to the success of Bridesmaids, but perhaps that’s unfair. The Heat is certainly proof that female-driven comedy can be as uproarious, raunchy, and side-splittingly slapstick as anything you’ve seen. It just doesn’t do anything new.
The Heat opens today in Philly area theaters.