FBI Agent Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) is a very smart agent with enough intuition and experience to know exactly where to find drugs in a potential bust where everyone else finds nothing. Her ability to far outperform any other agent has done moderately well for her career, so she’s surprised to find that she may be passed up for a promotion. The reason: she’s kind of a dick, and nobody likes her. Her last chance to prove herself for the position is to take on a drug case in Boston, partnered with Officer Mullins (Melissa McCarthy), a portly, loud, crass, violent, and possibly psychotic woman with one hell of a mean streak. Naturally, they hate each other. But they’ve gotta work together if they want to solve the case. You know the rest.
The Heat is hilarious—there’s no other way to put it. Director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) effectively blends both dialogue-based and physical humor, mixing in the other when the first starts to feel stale. People falling down, getting smacked or simply just fighting is tempered with rapid-fire exchanges about everything from Ashburn dressing like an accountant to Mullins being told she looks like “one of the Campbell Soup kids who grew up and became an alcoholic,” the screamers come quickly and with a vengeance. It’s also outrageously crass: The introductory scene for Mullins has her threatening to “shit in your mouth.” It only escalates from there, with plenty of f-bombs and more references to vaginas than a female masturbation instructional video. It is, at many times, startling and bizarre, but it almost always lands perfectly.
The movie would be nothing without effective chemistry between McCarthy and Bullock, and they have that in spades. Their ferociously energetic back-and-forth is what really drives the movie forward, and they make as good a screen duo as anyone of the past several years. McCarthy is a comedic force of nature as Mullins, delivering lines with laser precision that is impossible to resist.
This being a buddy cop movie, it does fall victim to all of the trappings of the subgenre, sometimes to a fault. This is almost a flawless blueprint of the exact same plot progression: two polar opposite law enforcement officials are stuck together on a case, absolutely hate each other, start to get along, get taken off the case, then complete it anyway and become best friends. All of these things happen, and they manage to be completely predictable. It gives the plot a bit of a rudimentary feel, though it luckily doesn’t dilute the overall fun factor of the movie. At the very least, we can be thankful that there aren’t any jokes about touching a black man’s radio.
Good buddy movies are far too rare in this day and age; the product of a bygone era that leaves a gaping hole in the comedy genre. The Heat is a fine return to form that admirably scratches that itch by focusing on the most important element: the chemistry between the characters. The movie gives Bullock and McCarthy plenty of room to play off each other, and throws around plenty of physical comedy to keep things fresh. It’s a movie that almost requires a second viewing, because you may be laughing too hard at one line to hear the one that follows it. The Heat is firing on all cylinders, and 2013 has its comedy queens.
Take a Drink: every time Mullins insults someone.
Take a Drink: every time Mullins threatens someone.
Do a Shot: for each reference to genitalia.
Take a Drink: any time someone falls over or gets hurt.