The Heat stars Melissa McCarthy as Detective Shannon Mullins and Sandra Bullock as FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn. They become mismatched partners when Ashburn takes an assignment in Boston to work a drug case she needs to crack in order to qualify for a promotion.
Sandra Bullock as Ashburn is definitely the straight woman in this comedy. Most of her FBI colleagues don’t like or respect her even though she’s actually a pretty brilliant agent. She’s also clumsy, awkward with people and so unloved in her life that she borrows the neighbors cat for affection. While not the most likeable character, the audience can definitely relate to her drive to be recognized as an effective agent. It’s like watching a snarky Sherlock Holmes as she points out or discovers all the places the criminals are hiding drugs or weapons that the other officers, even the canine ones, missed. Her straight-laced way of doing things is in for a total upset when she meets Mullins.
Melissa McCarthy’s Mullins is a foul-mouthed, street-smart Detective who takes the crime in her city personally. She’s got her own way of doing things and even the captain of her precinct doesn’t get in her way. This rude, unkempt and uncultured character is almost becoming a cliché for McCarthy to play. While she’s definitely funny as hell at playing characters like these, her range is a lot broader and I’d like to see her take some roles that stretch her comedy chops a bit. But then, maybe she’s tired of playing snarky but gentile characters like Molly from Mike & Molly. Either way, I always end up laughing.
The Heat is another example of the Odd Couple at work. Mullins is brash, unafraid to use threats or violence to get her way, and fearless in the face of criminals or superiors alike. Ashburn is by the book, yet just as driven to solve the drug case as Mullins. They both possess a keen mind for investigation, and that’s why they work well together. There’s a scene early on in the film where McCarthy is berating a suspect to make her talk. She mentions the cigarettes in the ashtray and Ashburn picks up on her hint and pulls the one butt not covered in lipstick, which turns out to be a lead.
The drug case is a little on the thin side, but it carries the story forward so that all the comedy bits have something to go in between them. There are plenty of really funny moments in the movie, though The Heat did pull that annoying thing where the trailer misrepresents some of the scenes and lines. Strangely, I think the movie’s versions worked better for the most part.
No buddy cop movie is complete without a nemesis from the law side of things, and that’s where Dan Bakkedahl comes in, as albino DEA agent Craig. Mullins is his real target, as she goes after him for being an albino and swears that he’s somehow in league with the drug lords. I won’t say if she’s right or wrong, but it’s funny stuff.
Mullins has a big family that consists of a lot of crazy characters, and The Heat has some fun at Boston’s expense over the word ‘Narc’ or ‘Nahk,’ as Mullins’ family says it. It’s not new humor, but it works well. It also serves as a time where Ashburn and Mullins can be serious by letting other characters handle most of the comedy.
There’s always one scene in a comedy like this that’s as funny as all the other moments put together, and in The Heat, it’s when Mullins and Ashburn go to a dive bar. If you doubted the chemistry of these two actresses together on the screen, then this scene will lay your doubts to rest.
I honestly hope The Heat turns into a franchise, because I could stand to watch more of these two characters on the screen.
Don’t rush out of the theater once the movie’s over. There’s a funny scene that happens not too terribly far into the credits that you won’t want to miss.