Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy make a hilarious pair in The Heat, which works best when it's playing up their chemistry and excellent comedic rhythm, which thankfully it does for pretty much the majority of the nearly 2 hour running time.
The Heat is a buddy-cop movie with the novelty coming from two women as the leads, and amazingly enough, this is the first time this has ever been attempted (especially surprising given how often this genre has been done, re-done and spoofed over the years since the 80's Lethal Weapon series perfected it). Sandra Bullock is the uptight, by-the-book FBI agent sent to Boston to help take down a major drug dealer and Melissa McCarthy is the crazy, profanity-laced nut on the local police force she encounters and is forced to team up with. There's not much of a plot here, this is really just an exercise in comedic improv and a chance for the two stars to riff off each other and make us laugh with their verbal exchanges and dialogue (and Parks and Recreation writer Katie Dippold comes up with some good lines), so in a movie like this the two actors better click.
And thankfully, they do in spades- there's a magic from the start between them, and they're clearly having a good time filming this, as I imagine much of McCarthy's verbal riffs are improvised and could go on for hours. While not exactly a revelation here, after her Oscar nomination for Bridesmaids, Melissa McCarthy proves herself a kind of comedic tornado from the minute she arrives on screen. Dominating every scene with a verbal wit and physicality that reminded me at times of the late Chris Farley, she's a force to be reckoned with and completely hilarious as one insane, profanity-laced jab after another escapes from her mouth with ease. Bullock is generous enough to stand back and give her the movie, but even as the straight man she's enough of a pro herself to know what it takes to be funny playing off of someone and the chemistry and rhythm between them is perfect in their extended, banter-ridden dialogue scenes.
They're so great together that they carry the movie through any cliched, by the numbers drug dealer plot, but luckily enough, director Paul Feig knows this movie is all about them and doesn't even bother to get too caught up in any real plot details. That can also serve to make the movie feel a little too lightweight and insubstantial (like an SNL skit stretched to feature length), but it never gets repetitive and is really worth seeing just for the two of them, who make such a unique and memorable comedic duo that it almost makes me want a sequel just to see them again. They make it seem effortless, and Melissa McCarthy is a total star.
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