The Heat

The Heat

**1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

The mismatched buddy cop genre gets a female makeover from Bridesmaids director Paul Feig but it's more Beverly Hills Cop 3 than Hot Fuzz.

Female makeover is putting it a bit strongly, as for all that Melissa McCarthy's cop Mullins has long hair and a string of bar fly admirers, she's really playing the slobby male cop role with a light dusting of "female weaknesses" - you know the sort of thing, family is her soft spot etc. When Axel Foley married wisecracking to case cracking back in 1984, the film was considered pretty edgy because of Eddie Murphy's way with a swear word. Almost 30 years later the F bomb is passe, meaning that, apparently, the insertion of vagina gags at every turn is necessary if you want to be at the teen vanguard. Meanwhile, Sandra Bullock (playing the modern version of BHC's Judge Reinhold role) brings an odd combination of daintiness - no swearing, pur-lees - and stuffiness to her FBI agent Ashburn. She is woman at Debenhams, Mullins looks as though she just arrived from a night at a death metal concert.

Copy picture

First names are, of course, never used because they're out-menning the men in every department, including misogynist asides and police brutality - by the end of the runtime you wonder why they bothered casting women at all. And that is the big problem with The Heat - despite the sometimes winning rapport between Bullock and McCarthy, they are trapped in a film which is utterly beneath them.

I'm sure I'm not alone in my desire to see a lot more over-40 females cast in mainstream Hollywood roles but let's, please, put them in films that have something interesting to say instead of this glorified sketch show with a bolt-on crime plot. I was surprised to discover this was written by a woman - Parks And Recreation's Katie Dippold - as for all its oestrogen gags it still feels drenched in the sort of testosterone reduction that ultimately led to the demise of buddy cop comedies in the first place.

When it comes to the plot, the Buddy Cop Formula is with them and they are thrust together on a case - a convoluted affair that lies dormant for much of the runtime but involves the hunt for a drugs kinpin, while Mullins tries to keep her ex-con brother alive. You come to suspect that the reason the film is so long at two hours, is because they wrote all the 'schtick' and then suddenly remembered it was supposed to be a movie and had to retro-fit the story.

This is not to say that The Heat doesn't have its moments - there are certainly laughs here but they are too few and far between to make this work. The film soared to the top of the US box office on the weekend of its first release, so it is no wonder that a sequel is in the works. There is more than enough charm in these basic characters - and talent in the actresses portraying them - to make a second instalment worthwhile, if only Dippold would look for comedy in the middle of the barrel rather than scraping the bottom of it.

Reviewed on: 16 Jul 2013
Share this with others on...
The Heat packshot
Mismatched buddy cop comedy with a female twist.
Amazon link

Festivals:


Search database: