If you’ve seen the trailer for The Heat (and if you’ve seen Paul Feig’s previous film, Bridesmaids), you’ll most likely be expecting a silly, gag-laden romp with a good measure of slapstick and a large supply of crude humour. You won’t be disappointed. Luckily The Heat isn’t one of those comedies where they cram all the best bits into the two minute teaser, either; if anything the film ramps things up a notch, approaching the likes of Airplane in terms of its puns-per-minute ratio and featuring a snappy (and impressively foul-mouthed) script.
The plot is a play on the classic buddy cop movie, pairing Sandra Bullock’s arrogant and antisocial FBI agent Ashburn with the crude (and less than by- the-book) officer Mullins (played brilliantly by Melissa McCarthy, who clearly has a lot of fun with the role). The storyline itself holds no surprises. The two are forced to work together and go after a mysterious drug lord, and they get into all the usual awkward/ridiculous situations while the plot moves towards its inevitable conclusion.
You could guess how things are going to pan out a mile off, but it doesn’t always matter; the real star of the show is the film’s script. The bad language is unrelenting and used to hilarious effect, there’s plenty of farce, and the dialogue is consistently sharp and witty. McCarthy and Bullock really bring their roles to life, too, and the supporting cast is full of excellent comedy performances.
Feig, along with script writer Katie Dippold, are clearly big fans of the buddy cop genre. There are plenty of in-jokes and plays on genre stereotypes and the level of detail (the film’s washed out end credits and split-screen title sequence, for instance) give a nice overall effect. The only downside to this faithfulness to the genre is that we know exactly what’s coming next; although this is often part of the joke (and the film’s charm), it does lead to the pace dropping off slightly around two thirds of the way through. This is the point when certain jokes start being recycled, and the story starts to lag a bit. The acting and the occasional moment of hilarity still holds things together, but there’s the sense that the film could perhaps have been cut a bit shorter.
In the end, though, The Heat gets away with it. It gets away with the silly slapstick action; it gets away with the constant foul language and the slightly weak plot. It gets away with it because of the acting and the script, and because the two things, when combined, are – as all good comedies should be – enjoyable and entertaining to watch.