Comedies about cop partners are a dime a dozen these days. Sometimes it’s even hard to distinguish which ones are actually funny from the ones that try too hard. And one would think that partnering Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy would make “The Heat” an instant classic, but unfortunately this is not the case here.
Special Agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) is a know-it-all FBI agent who is really good at her job. So good, in fact, that she rubs it in everyone’s faces. Which is why no one on the force likes her. Ashburn is assigned to a case in Boston in order to be qualified for a possible promotion and ends up coming face to face with one of Boston’s finest cops (or craziest, depending on your perspective), Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy).
Mullins spends half her time harassing perpetrators and playing the tough “you can’t mess with me” act. It’s the typical uptight cop vs. surly, blunt cop. The two of them are forced to work together in order to catch a drug lord who’s trying to overtake the city.
“The Heat” isn’t a horrendous movie, but it’s also not good either. It spends the first half of the film trying to be really funny and ends up trying too hard. The plot does pick up in the second half though, and gives us the funniest scene in the entire movie: McCarthy and Bullock drunkenly dancing and making a scene at a bar. However, that’s not really enough to save the movie from its slow-going pace and lack of momentum.
The problem isn’t only with the lack of genuine comedy; it’s with the characters in general. Bullock is once again playing an uptight person who needs to be told constantly by the other lead that she needs to lighten up. McCarthy is usually great fun, but her character is obnoxious three-fourths of the time and even though the case involves her brother, there’s no sense of a real connection there. Marlon Wayans is one of the saving graces of the film and should have received more screen time.
Luckily, the final showdown is funny enough to leave you with a sense that you’re time isn’t completely wasted. The last twenty minutes of the film have a spark that the rest of the film lacks. The two characters finally click and begin working together, and after seeing it you automatically know that this is what should have happened much earlier in the film.
“The Heat” has the potential to be something better but doesn’t quite get there. It’s a run-of-the-mill comedy that’s not enough of a rule breaker. Bullock and McCarthy are good together, but the film’s dialogue and plot don’t give them a lot to work with, so even their relationship doesn’t really go anywhere. Without any sense of flair, “The Heat” is like a fire that gets doused before ever getting started.