Monday, July 1, 2013


The first thing to notice about Paul Feig's "The Heat" is that it's the first female buddy cop since, well, ever. The one disappointing part might be these two, Secret Agent Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) and Officer Mullins (Melissa McCarthy), can't just exist in a world where women in this line of work can be the norm. It's definitely brought up that they're in a man's world. But if any of the guys on the force have anything mysogonistic to say about it -- wise cracks about estrogen and vaginas -- they're always shot down. And sometimes, in the case of one guy, literally shot right in the head. These two over-40 actresses work it and make Paul Feig's follow-up to "Bridesmaids" something to see. The fact that it's easily topping Channing Tatum in a wifebeater ("White House Down") this weekend is a great thing indeed.

A raucuous scene with "Veep"'s Tony Hale soliciting a prostitute introduces us to the crude and relentlessly angry nature of McCarthy's Mullins. She still reigns as this generation's comedic queen, and here she plays a better, hard-edged, more insane version of her identity-stealing Diane from earlier this year's "Identity Thief." She cusses like a sailor and throws punches and insults in equal measure. Here's a woman who stocks her fridge with high-powered weaponry.

Opposite the buttoned-up, uptight professionalism of Ashburn, Mullins is even more of a loose cannon. As expected, the two polar opposite personalities clash immediately -- almost too harshly so for the audience at first. But once the script from Katie Dippold smooths out its rough edges, Bullock and McCarthy emerge with an inspired chemistry making it no wonder a sequel is already in the works.

And while there's hardly comparison to McCarthy's comic energy and timing, Bullock has never been funnier. She reprises a version of her ugly duckling from "Miss Congeniality" eventually learning to loosen up, especially during the obligatory getting drunk together, getting to know each other scene between the two female law enforcers. The actual police procedural (headed by a stern-looking Demian Bichir), gets clunky in its logistics, but that's not what's important here. While there are some comic misfires sprinkled throughout, they mostly deliver the laughs with a fun cast of characters along the way, and Mullins' outrageous Bostonian family that feels like something ripped out of "The Fighter." And as almost an homage to "Bridesmaids" gross-out food poisoning scene, there are moments of shockingly gruesome violence, which actually make for the movie's very funniest parts.

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