When a director helms a major hit, it sometimes overshadows much of his career. M. Night Shyamalan, for one, was inevitably hurt by the fact that nothing he did after The Sixth Sense (1999) compared to that Oscar-nominated drama. The auteur has made a few strong pictures since then– it’s been a while though– but the excitement of his earlier work was never replicated for audiences.
Bridesmaids (2011) director Paul Feig shouldn’t have that concern. His latest comedy The Heat continues his comedic hot streak and is almost as much of a home run as his 2011 hit was.
Melissa McCarthy, who earned an Oscar nomination for her supporting role in Bridesmaids, leads a comedic duo here alongside Oscar winner Sandra Bullock. McCarthy plays an out-of-control Boston police officer named Mullins, who never learned a rule she followed and never met a suspect she didn’t rough up. Working alongside her is Bullock, who plays Ashburn–a work-obsessed FBI agent who is pursuing a highly-coveted promotion.
Both women are forced to work together on a case involving a mysterious drug lord, whose crimes in Boston are well-known around town.
Although the plot sounds bland, it merely provides the set-up for one of the year’s best comedies, and possibly one of its best films.
McCarthy delivers a laugh-out-loud performance here that truly shows what she’s capable of when she’s given a strong script and a decent character. The Mike and Molly star often plays crude and obnoxious characters but there is a difference between the character she plays here and the ones she’s played in The Hangover Part III (2013) and in Identity Thief (2013) earlier this year. The flawed character here is redeemed because when she acts out, it’s often in pursuit of justice. She may be crude but her crudeness only reinforces her character’s dislike for the rules that hinder her ability to bring criminals to justice.
Bullock, on the other hand, is great as the straight-laced partner forced into odd situations by her reckless partner. Although she is given fewer comedic opportunities as “the straight man,” the actress proves that she hasn’t lost the charm and the relatability that has made her stand out in the seemingly-glamorous Hollywood crowd.
The Heat, which is packed with great one-liners and a few inventive politically-incorrect jokes, is supported by some great sight gags that will leave audiences in hysterics. Some of these scenes are unnecessary to the plot (the Denny’s scene, for instance) but are completely worth it because of the laughs they elicit. In scenes such as this, the story doesn’t shy away from graphic displays of blood so audiences should be prepared to flinch for a few seconds before they laugh at the pure insanity of it all.
In terms of the comedy itself, The Heat offers less crudeness but more cussing than Bridesmaids. Mullins seldom says a line without an expletive but that’s not surprising considering her character’s tough facade. Regardless, this flick works far better than most and shows that this trio–Feig, McCarthy, and Bullock– is was made in comedy heaven.
The ending leaves open the possibility for sequels down the line but I, for one, can’t wait for the comedic fire of this fun story to keep burning.