When Miss Congeniality goes up against Miss Vulgarity, can there be a doubt about whos going to win?
As a tightly wound FBI agent in The Heat, Sandra Bullock gamely jousts for attention with Melissa McCarthys coarse, Boston-Irish detective. But from the moment she barrels onto the scene like a cannonball of crudity, McCarthy makes it clear that this movie is hers to make or break. And she knocks it right out of Fenway Park, with a big assist from director Paul Feig, who previously brought out her Oscar-nominated best in Bridesmaids.
Agent Sarah Ashburn (Bullock) is cocky and in control until shes teamed with Detective Shannon Mullins (McCarthy), a cursing hellion in sweatpants and black fingerless gloves, to take down a drug kingpin. Its the old class-meets-crass setup of many a buddy-cop movie, but what makes it fresh is McCarthys freestyle fearlessness.
She pulls off antics that would draw groans, if not bristles of offense, in anyone elses hands taking down a perp who is black by beaning him with a watermelon, insulting an albino. Mullins, whose m.o. is shoot off mouth first, ask questions later, doesnt bother to open her piehole unless shes spitting out something shocking. Like a live-stream of the id run amok, she induces as many gasps of the Oh, no, she didnt kind as she does belly laughs.
The plot is as cliched as they come, but relying on that is missing the point. The chemistry between Bullock and McCarthy as they go from adversaries to loyal pals is the story worth watching. Theyre as tough as any male pairing of the genre Gibson and Glover in Lethal Weapon, Murphy and Nolte in 48 Hours but they bring a strong girlfriends feeling to the table. They can get blind drunk on Jagermeister shots in a dive bar and take a knife in the leg like champs, but they also argue about Spanx and barrettes, and discuss choosing career over marriage and kids. That conversation is refreshingly brief; this movie is about friendship, not romance.
Though it often seems as if McCarthy and Bullock are ad-libbing their lines, the script is an impressive feature-film debut for writer Katie Dippold , whose TV credits are Parks & Recreation and MADtv.
The action flatlines at several points, but thats offset by an endless parade of small roles and cameos from familiar funny faces including Michael McDonald, Marlon Wayans and Jane Curtin. Even Ben Falcone (McCarthys husband, better known around here as the weird music teacher in those Target denim commercials from a couple of years ago) makes a momentary appearance as a lovelorn former suitor. Further reinforcements come from Mullins caricature of a family, complete with a Great Dane named Kevin Garnett and tacky paintings blending Jesus and sports.
Amid buzz that The Heat 2 is already in the works, whats most notable about the film is that it stars two over-40 women actors and its not a rom-com. That calls for a shot of Jager.