Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Heat / ***½ (R)

Ashburn: Sandra Bullock
Mullins: Melissa McCarthy
Hale: Demian Bichir
Levy: Marlon Wayans
Jason Mullins: Michael Rapaport
Julian: Michael McDonald
Craig: Dan Bakkedahl
Adam: Taran Killam
Rojas: Spoken Reasons
Mrs. Mullins: Jane Curtain
Captain Woods: Tom Wilson

20th Century Fox presents a film directed by Paul Feig. Written by Katie Dippold. Running time: 117 min. Rated R (for pervasive language, strong crude content and some violence).

I’m just going to come out and say it. Melissa McCarthy is some sort of comedic genius. McCarthy makes this movie. She makes it into possibly the funniest movie of the year almost single handedly. Perhaps that’s not giving her headliner enough credit. Sandra Bullock is no slouch and now that she’s graduated from the unpredictable character to the straight woman, she’s found the role she was meant for in an action comedy.

“The Heat” teams McCarthy back with director Paul Feig, whose “Bridesmaids” a couple of years ago made McCarthy one of the few women ever to be nominated for an Academy Award for comedic supporting performance. Feig knows when to let McCarthy out of her cage, which he does for about 110 minutes of this 117-minute feature. What that entails is a loose canon police detective character that comes from the formula of the buddy cop movie, but is delivered from a uniquely feminine perspective in a performance that could’ve only come from McCarthy and no one else.

Bullock is FBI Special Agent Ashburn. Ashburn is a straight-laced solid agent, whose boasting and self-superiority make her unpopular with her co-workers. She’s up for a promotion, but her inability to work with others makes her a poor candidate. She’s sent to Boston to catch a drug kingpin, with the understanding that if she proves her ability to work with local law enforcement, she will be considered for the open position. The fact that McCarthy’s Detective Mullins is the local law enforcement she must work with makes that a very tall order.

Mullins is a no nonsense, in the trenches, detective who pretty much just deals with small time criminals, but with an attitude that could take down Al Qaida. McCarthy has a hilarious tirade about the size of her Captain’s balls when he allows Ashburn to interrogate one of her perps without her permission. She’s rude and crude to everyone with whom she has any contact, including her superiors, her suspects, her co-workers, and even her family. She has a particularly volatile relationship with her family because she sent one of her brothers to prison.

The first screenplay by writer Katie Dippold, who has written for “MADtv” and “Parks and Recreation”, keeps the action squarely focused on the evolving relationship between Ashburn and Mullins as they come to use their opposing styles in conjunction with each other. Feig, who cut his teeth on the Judd Apatow television series “Freaks and Geeks” and “Undeclared” before moving on to numerous other television comedies, knows how to use the supporting cast effective as just that—support for the two leads. Michael McDonald, of “MADtv”, plays the cartel’s enforcer in a rather subdued role for him. Feig lets his particular wackiness out just enough to give McCarthy some rope for some good interrogation bits. And, an albino DEA agent, played by Dan Bakkedahl, provides some nice off color humor, if you’ll excuse the pun.

“The Heat” is Bullock’s and McCarthy’s show, however. Their comedic chemistry is a perfect match. McCarthy plays so well off Bullock’s straight arrow, I can’t imagine much of her dialogue wasn’t improvised. This is one of those movies where the audience is going to want to see the outtakes on the DVD to see what other outrageous words came out of McCarthy’s mouth that they just didn’t have the place for in the finished movie. Almost everything she says is a tirade of insults and zingers, and every one of them is pure gold.

It might seem generous to give a comedy that so strictly adheres to Hollywood formula such a high star rating, but it isn’t the details of the plot that make this movie one of the gems of the summer, it’s the brash personality of McCarthy’s detective and the perfect springboard of Bullock’s that make this comedy a laugh riot. Your face will hurt. Your gut will cramp. Your laughter might induce a hernia. It’s worth the ticket price.

Warning! Red Band trailer contains pervasive language.

No comments: