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Movie Review: "The Heat"

CCurmudgeon logo newBY VAN ROBERTS


Melissa McCarthy can get away with anything in Hollywood since her performance in the Kristin Wiig comedy “Bridesmaids.” The rotund but riotous gal radiates spontaneity with each line she delivers. Any doubts about her charisma after “Bridesmaids” were swept aside when she co-starred with Jason Bateman as the villain in “Identity Thief.” Critically lambasted, this crude, half-baked crime comedy grossed $173-million from a seed budget of $35 million. McCarthy hijacked every scene in “Identity Thief,” and she does the same in “The Heat” (*** OUT OF ****) with Sandra Bullock cringing beside her. This outrageous, 117-minute, police procedural deals with two cops who are bad for each other. An arrow-straight, repressed female FBI Agent finds herself cooperating with a slob of a Boston Police Inspector who breaks every rule in her book. Of course, Bullock is cast as the straight-laced FBI Agent. She wears professional-looking, business attire and conducts herself in a prim and proper manner. On the other hand, McCarthy constitutes a moving violation as a potty-mouthed Boston Police Department detective. She swears like a sailor and utters just about every profane word you can imagine. Basically, her mouth is a sewer overflowing her lips. She lugs around firearms galore and stores a veritable arsenal of weapons in her cramped apartment. She even has hand grenades and rocket launchers on the premises. Actually, she is a distaff version of “Dirty Harry” or more properly perhaps “Dirty Harriet.” “Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig and “Parks and Recreation” scenarist Katie Dippold treat the Bullock and McCarthy characters like an odd couple in his violent but formulaic crime thriller. Forget about the complicated plot and high body count. The thing that makes “The Heat” sizzle is the combustible chemistry of Bullock and McCarthy. They emerge as the equivalent of Abbott and Costello, and Twentieth Century Fox already has a sequel in the works.

Special Agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock of “Miss Congeniality”) is a seasoned FBI agent and a Yale University graduate. She wants to step into the shoes of her boss, Hale (Demián Bichir of “Savages”), after he earns his promotion. Unfortunately, our ambitious heroine suffers from a shortage of people skills. She has managed to alienate virtually everybody either inside or outside the Bureau. Hale draws a line in the sand. If Ashburn can arrest a mysterious Boston-area drug czar, Hale will recommend her for the position. Not sooner has Ashburn hit Boston than she starts alienating the locals. Street savvy Boston Detective Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) is feared by both her own and the criminal element. After local FBI Agent Levy (Marlon Wayans of “White Chicks”) arranges for Ashburn to question a suspected drug dealer Rojas (newcomer Spoken Reasons), our heroine collides with Mullins. Predictably, the slovenly Mullins isn’t elated with being paired up with Ashburn, and they grate on each others’ nerves. When she catches Ashburn interrogating one of her suspects, Mullins warns her, “I’ll shut the door on you. You lay down here and put your head in the door. And I’ll slam it about 157,000 times.” As it turns, the drug czar case is personal for Mullins. Mullin’s brother Jason (Michael Rapaport of “True Romance”) is about to be paroled from prison for pedaling drugs. Ironically, Shannon arrested her own brother much to the chagrin of her dysfunctional family. Nevertheless, she fears that Jason may not have cut his ties with the drug czar. Not only are Ashburn and Mullins losing sleep over the case, but also a pair of DEA Agents, Craig (Dan Bakkedahl of “This Is 40”) and Adam (Taran Killam of “Grown Ups 2), are also keeping tabs. Predictably, jurisdictional boundaries take a beating when Mullins and Ashburn clash with these guys.o-MELISSA-MCCARTHY-THE-HEAT-facebook

Freshman scenarist Katie Dippold has said that she wanted to pen the equivalent of a buddy cop movie for the gals along the lines of “Running Scared” and “Lethal Weapon.” Essentially, “The Heat” is reminiscent of those testosterone-laden, male bonding epics with the rampant profanity and frequent gunplay. Mind you, this isn’t the first time women have bonded as a pair. Nevertheless, nobody has ever been as foul-mouthed as McCarthy. Dippold works in some interesting surprises, especially the identity of a mole within the ranks of the authorities. The running joke about the big yellow cat that belongs to Ashburn’s neighbor is as amusing as the cat that plays the role. The sturdy supporting cast is rounded out by Marlon Wayans, Jane Curtin, Michael Rappaport, Taran Killam, Tony Hale, and Kaitlin Olson. Occasionally, Feig and Dippold pull a stunt that doesn’t pay off like most of them. For example, the scene in the restaurant where Bullock’s character performs a tracheotomy should have been left on the cutting room floor. McCarthy and Bullock are at the top of their respective games in this incendiary cop comedy. Squeamish spectators are warned in advance that “The Heat” lives up to its R-rating with extreme profanity, vulgar subject matter, and gratuitous violence.


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