The movie follows a well-beaten path. They're cops, they're enemies, they're friends, they're opposites. It's funny.
The legacy is a long one: "Beverly Hills Cop," "Tango & Cash," "Starsky & Hutch," "48 Hrs.," "Men in Black," "Turner & Hooch," "Miami Vice." Basically it's a man's world.
But as director
Really one cannot over-emphasize the role that bosoms play, literally and metaphorically. They are talked about, pushed around, prodded, insulted, dressed up, dressed down. They're like another character. Occasionally, they come in handy. And they remind us "The Heat" is not buddy-cop business as usual.
Bullock and McCarthy, as Ashburn and Mullins, are from different agencies — Ashburn's
A string of dicey unsolved Boston murders has thrown them unhappily together. As Mullins says during their first face to face, "I've just spent the last 30 minutes thinking of ways to kill you."
Bickering, bonding, bad guys and a lot of very bad language, mostly from McCarthy's Mullins, will ensue.
That the movie manages to be funny without feeling misogynistic is in part because of Dippold wielding the pen. And not because she's a she. Dippold has been writing comedy for a while now, starting in 2006 on Fox's underrated "MADtv" and moving over to handle punch lines for
Meanwhile, Feig, with the mega-hit
McCarthy and Bullock are an odd and oddly likable team. Both actresses are fearless with physical comedy. Bullock specializes in awkward and uptight, McCarthy in aggressive and unfiltered. "The Heat" makes the most of those differences.
A particularly tight doorway pits them against each other, but more often there is a guy about to find out that big — as in big gun or big muscles or big wad of cash — does not guarantee much of anything.
For those worried that the essential action of the genre may have softened with chicks in the pic, know that "The Heat" is down-and-dirty tough with all the gun brandishing, foot races, car chases and bruising confrontations with the criminal element an action fan could want.
The rough sits surprisingly well with the more sentimental emotional arc Ashburn and Mullins are given. McCarthy's character in particular is allowed nuance, and that is a nice thing.
Nice, however, is not where you go first.
Our introduction to FBI agent Ashburn is a smug smile while brown-nosing the boss (
Mullins is a foul-mouthed detective good at catching bad guys but not much else. Her captain fears her, and not long into "The Heat" you understand why. Her family hasn't forgiven her for throwing brother Jason (Michael Rapaport) in jail — that's the relationship to watch. Her fashion sensibility leans toward thrift store, not chic, more like dollar bin. When we meet her, Mullins has spotted a john amid a proposition. Suffice it to say she is armed and dangerous with or without a gun.
The villain is an elusive drug lord named Larkin. His brutality is legendary, his face a mystery. It's a good twist but means the filmmakers have to throw in some other faces for us to hate in the meantime.
There is DEA agent Craig (Dan Bakkedahl), a crude albino-chauvinist, and his sycophant sidekick (Taran Killam). The DEA investigation is at odds with theirs, and agent Craig is out to shut them down. Mullins' favorite perp is a possible Larkin street dealer named Rojas (a funny Spoken Reasons). Also in Larkin's circle is the very scary, very good with knives Julian (
But mostly this is Mullins and Ashburn's run-and-gun show. At times "The Heat" gets messy, and the comedy is not always pitch perfect. But they're cops. They're enemies. They're friends. They're opposites. It's funny.
MPAA rating: R for pervasive language, strong crude content and some violence
Running time: 1 hour, 57 minutes
Playing: In general release