The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

July 19, 2013

MOVIE REVIEW: ‘The Heat’ entertaining in spite of itself

By KIRBY MCCORD
Palestine Herald-Press

— Type casting can be a good thing or a bad thing. From a viewer’s perspective, you get what you think you’re getting when you fork over the price of a ticket.  For instance, anybody going to a movie with Bruce Willis in it pretty much knows what they’re in for: a non-stop action-fest with more explosions than can be counted, complete with wise-cracking commentary. On the down side, the redundancy of type casting can get boring. Both good and bad come with the pairing of Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in “The Heat.”

Ambitious FBI Agent Sarah Ashburn’s smug attitude and know-it-all approach may pay dividends in getting the bad guys, but it has worn very thin on her co-workers. She is sent to Boston with her eye on promotion to tie recently arrested small-time drug dealer Rojas to the big guys in the FBI database. But foul-mouthed anti-social Boston PD Detective Shannon Mullins doesn’t want to share Rojas with the FBI.  She is as physically intimidating as Ashburn is intellectually formidable; she bullies the suspects as well as her colleagues and everyone is terrified of her. Egos clash between the two heroines, sometimes humorously, until the two mismatched officers of the law learn to respect each other’s abilities. By then “The Heat” has degenerated into predictable tripe.

Based on the credentials of the writer (Katie Dippold) and director (Paul Feig), both of whom have extensive background in television, the film could have been a one hour TV episode. But this otherwise unsurprising film is saved by the reliable leads performing their stereotypical roles.

Sandra Bullock (“The Blind Side”) plays the wittily named FBI Agent as an uptight, somewhat effeminate, but not too attractive walking encyclopedia of criminal knowledge who has an aversion to getting dirty. She wears androgynous pant suits and pancake make-up (often bearing an uncanny resemblance to Michael Jackson). Like her performances in “The Proposal” and “Miss Congeniality,” she is transformed in one humorous scene from unattractive asexual witch into desirable nubile woman.

Melissa McCarthy (TV’s “Mike & Molly”) is the bombastically offensive Mullins. Doing a more approachable version of Roseanne Barr, she reprises her roles in “Identity Theft” and “The Hangover Part III;” Ms. McCarthy insults everybody in sight, dropping numerous four letter words apparently intending to offend everyone — including the audience. Both leads perform their shtick with aplomb, making an otherwise dull movie enjoyable in spite of its short comings.  

The supporting cast is adequate, although precious little time is devoted to character development.  Marlon Wayans (“A Haunted House”) portrays an FBI agent smitten with Ashburn but too shy to pursue his attraction. Demian Bicher(“Savages”) plays Ashburn’s FBI Supervisor as a thickly accented Hispanic worn down by Ashburn’s attitude. Michael Rapaport (“Last I Heard”) and Jane Curtin (TV’s “Saturday Night Live”) play blue collar family members of Mullins. Tom Wilson (“Back to the Future”) portrays Mullins’ long-suffering police captain. Newcomer Spoken Reasons turns in a star-making performance as the bright-eyed drug dealer Rojas.

One of the interesting approaches of this movie involves a humorous stab at political correctness. Slight humor is pointed at the Hispanic FBI supervisor’s ethnicity. The swag of Rojas, although quite funny, is also given only a passing nod.  ame for blue collar workers, Boston accents, and cops in general. But then, about halfway through the movie, an albino DEA officer appears and is skewered. This indirect juxtaposition is one of the enjoyable moments of “The Heat.”

“The Heat” is predictable, but the performances of Ms. McCarthy and Ms. Bullock make it bearable, and at times hilarious.

2.0 Stars

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1 star — Avoid this boring mess of a movie at all costs.  Reading the dictionary is more entertaining.

2 stars — If you're in the right mood or if the subject matter appeals to you, you may like this film; or it is uneven, at times entertaining and believable and at other times sophomoric.  If you've got nothing else to do, it may be worth the price of admission (at least a matinee).

3 stars — This is a generally good movie that most people will enjoy.  If you're looking for an entertaining couple of hours, spend it here and you won't be disappointed.

4 stars — Don't miss this film!  I don't care if you have time or not, make the time, because this movie is terrific.