When did being really funny become not enough for a comedy to be critically successful? When did everyone disappear so far up themselves that there was no room left for dumb, funny movies? Because The Heat is funny. Really, really funny. Yet currently on only 63% with critics on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m not saying it’s a comedy classic that will live on like Ghostbusters or Caddyshack, but it’s a solid comedy that made me laugh all the way through, so what else could I ask for?
This is a buddy cop comedy, but the difference is, these buddies are broads. Boob havin’, double X chromosome boastin’, non-dude broads. That is, ladies. What I like about The Heat though, is that their gender is never really milked for easy jokes. Sure, there are a lot of jokes that require them to be women for them to work, but only in the way that really vulgar, insulting, harsh jokes and attacks on character often come down to gender, no matter which the butt of those jokes might be. But both of these main characters are capable, successful women in their field, and the men around them never seem to question that confidence or their abilities based on gender.
As this is a buddy cop comedy, one needs to be uptight and by the book (Sandra Bullock) and one needs to be a loose cannon who plays by her own rules (Melissa McCarthy). Bullock is an over achieving, overly formal and book smart FBI agent who’s current case takes her to Boston, where she reluctantly teams up with McCarthy’s street smart, no bull shit cop. You can probably predict every beat that plays out from here, but that’s fine. Pretty much every movie follows an overly familiar map, but it’s the jokes, set pieces and performances along the way that make it worthwhile.
One criticism I’ve read more than once of The Heat is that it the move relies too much on McCarthy’s improv. And that’s accusation isn’t inaccurate, I just don’t think it’s a bad thing. So many scenes are obviously just director Paul Feig pointing a camera at McCarthy and letting her go off on one. But when the results are so consistently funny, filthy and entertaining, I’m on board. Sure, it’s the same technique used by McCarthy in the mostly overlooked, almost completely forgotten Identity Thief, but somehow, it pays off more effectively here.
While she’s the bigger name of the two, Sandra Bullock takes a back seat to McCarthy and is given the thankless job of delivering exposition and moving the story forward. But on the occasions when she is thrown the comedy ball, she runs with it with all she’s got and is more than capable of keeping up with McCarthy’s comedy assaults.
From what people called the female answer to The Hangover with Bridesmaids, to the female answer to the buddy cop comedy in The Heat, to his recently announced female comedy answer to James Bond, Feig definitely has a thing for gender equality. Or maybe he’s just stumbled across an easy formula of putting chicks in traditionally blokey roles and watching the box office dollars roll in. If the movies stay this funny, I don’t really care what his motivation is.