Film: The Heat

The Heat (2013) shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but I guess it’s a sign of how far Hollywood hasn’t come that a female buddy-cop movie can feel so unusual. Sandra Bullock is an arrogant, hotshot FBI agent named Sara Ashburn. She’s angling for promotion, but poor interpersonal skills prompt her boss to send her to Boston, there to work a case with the local police. Enter Detective Mullins (Melissa McCarthy), a foul-mouthed badass familiar with the neighborhood, and she doesn’t exactly play nice with others, either. Her slobby, out-of-control behavior is the exact opposite of Ashburn’s buttoned-down, book-read approach, so naturally…well, you get the idea.

Structurally the script is pretty formulaic, but plot isn’t the point here. The movie succeeds on the performances of Bullock and McCarthy, who have terrific chemistry and comic timing together. I tend to prefer their verbal exchanges to the physical humor, but both are well executed, and the movie has an infectious energy to it. (I wasn’t surprised to learn that the film’s writer, Katie Dippold, is a veteran of Parks & Recreation; Ashburn’s awkward competence is very Leslie Knope, and the film has a similar touch for character.) A fast, funny comedy.

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