I chuckled once. I am tempted to leave the review at that, but I don’t guess I can. The Heat is a lackluster, overlong, boring odd couple/buddy comedy of the cop variety. The — makers of it appear to believe that listening to Melissa McCarthy swear is endlessly funny — and that it’s even funnier if she swears at the top of her lungs. (That part is nothing new. Loud has been mistaken for funny as far back as the Ritz Brothers and Lou Costello.) This has certain built-in limitations — unless you’re wildly amused by permutations of the F-word for two hours. Face it, even clever variations on the word wear thin after a while. These aren’t even clever. Most of the movie’s vulgarity is no more inspired than recess at junior high.
The premise here is that Sandra Bullock is a tight-assed, glory-hound FBI agent who gets partnered with foul-mouthed, unkempt, insubordinate Boston cop McCarthy on a case. They immediately hate each other. Do I really need to say more? You have to know how this is going to work out. You’ve seen it lots of times — only with male leads. I suppose this is considered a breakthrough for women in film — at last they can be in movies just as threadbare and predictable as those starring their male counterparts. The only possible way to make this fresh would be to have Bullock and McCarthy switch roles. And since that didn’t happen, here we are — with yet another movie that plays like a check list of things out of other similar movies. By the time the movie got to the scene where Bullock couldn’t understand McCarthy’s Boston-accented family (see also Fred Gwynne trying to decipher Joe Pesci in 1992’s My Cousin Vinny), I was ready to go. Unfortunately, the movie wasn’t ready to let me.
As might be expected, Bullock manages to get through all this largely unscathed. Her innate sense of comic timing and knack for physical comedy saves her from the film’s tone-deaf clunkiness. No matter how bland the direction, nor how unfocused McCarthy’s material becomes, Bullock soldiers on, imbuing her character with more than the script affords her. Well, most of the time. A few of the film’s more ill-conceived notions — the botched tracheotomy scene, for example — are beyond salvaging. Plus, the film is so obviously intended to cash in on the curious popularity of McCarthy as the obnoxious, aggressive, angry, foul-mouthed character (with the obligatory damaged heart-of-gold) that she’s been playing for three movies now, that it’s pretty much her show. How you feel about her particular schtick is going to determine your tolerance for this. Judging by the weekend box office, there’s more appeal than I’d have thought likely, but McCarthy is still in one-trick-pony realm. Rated R for pervasive language, crude content and some violence.
Playing at Carolina Cinemas, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, United Artists Beaucatcher