Looking at the ingredients, “The Heat” looks like a recipe for success. It has a talented cast, a good director and a unique selling point. Its unfortunate, then, that the execution fails to make the most of the resources available and ends up flat, irritating and occasionally boring.
The plot deals with uptight, by-the-book FBI Agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) and slovenly free-spirited Boston Police Detective Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) who are forced to team up to take down a gangster kingpin.
With such a generic and cliched plot, the film pins it hopes firmly on the idea of subverting the usually testosterone-driven conventions of the buddy cop movie with two female leads but can’t seems unable to resist hitting every well-worn story beat rendering it predictable and dull. Although both Bullock and McCarthy are engaging screen presences in their own right and have decent chemistry as a duo, it’s hard to shake the feeling we’ve seen these actors play these exact same roles in other films, and not only play them better but have more fun while doing it. McCarthy’s free association ad-libbing doesn’t feel anywhere as inspired or energised as it did in her “Bridesmaids” collaboration with Director Paul Feig while Bullock is almost on autopilot, running through an amalgamation of her back catalogue of capable, spunky yet naive law enforcement officer characters.
In common with many buddy comedies, the villain is fairly thinly drawn and despite one or two twists doesn’t really make an impression while the film takes more than a few meandering detours which don’t really advance the plot or flesh out the characters in any meaningful way. In its eagerness to push its two stars to the foreground and let them do their thing, the film wastes a good supporting cast, including Marlon Wayans, Michael Rapaport and the great Jane Curtin, who are given little to do.
Lacking the wit and charm of its forebears such as “Lethal Weapon”, “48 Hours” or “Tango & Cash”, “The Heat” relies solely on the name recognition of its two stars to drag itself across the finish line. Of course, I’m not the target market for this film but I can tell you I watched this with Mrs Craggus and her review consisted of only two words, one of which had four letters so I’m not convinced there’s a gender bias issue at play here.
It’s an adequate mismatched buddy comedy and there are a few laughs to be had but mainly it feels tired, disengaged and sorely missing the usual energy of its leads. And for all its feminist underpinnings, what on Earth was going on with the photoshopping of Melissa McCarthy in the poster?