I’ve been watching the release date for this film approach rapidly on the calendar in much the same way that a mariner warily eyes a gathering storm on the horizon. The film’s release date was pushed back two months, leaving me wondering when the damned thing was going to come out, all while being mercilessly assaulted by those horrendous adds. I’m not a huge fan of comedies as it is, and the drawn out marketing campaign had contradictorily filled we with a sense a profound apathy about the film. Nevertheless, I burst into the theater throwing caution to the wind and tried to like it despite my cynical tendencies.
The Heat comes to us from the renown director of such television hits such as The Office, 30 Rock, Freaks and Geeks, Arrested Development and others, as well as the 2011 comedy Bridesmaids, Paul Feig. Perhaps more importantly, the writing- with makes or breaks any film, especially comedies- comes from Parks and Recreation writer Katie Dippold. While well cut and impressively paced, it’s abundantly clear that the story took a backseat to the myriad comedy- but more on that in a moment.
Featuring Melissa McCarthy (as she tries to rebound from the unmitigated mess that was Identity Thief) and Sandra Bullock, The Heat focuses on the antics of these two women as they form a close bond while tracking down a rampaging drug dealer. While McCarthy unquestionably shines in the role that she’s tackling, Sandra Bullock could almost have been replaced by anyone and nothing would have been attracted by the film. I had originally thought thought that Tina Fey would have been a much better choice for that role.
Here’s the thing: comedy by nature is generally pretty hit-and-miss and moreover really subjective. That being said, some of the comedy will resonate with some more than others. Like I mentioned before, the plot is the incredibly cliche buddy cop flick that has been made since probably the mid-seventies. It makes sense, then, that Dippold tries to gloss over that fact as much as possible. She frequently takes these massive, kind of disconcerting detours into some comedy sequence that has absolutely nothing to do with the plot. On the other hand, however, the comedy (depending on your sensibilities) will likely make up for the poorly constructed plot.
Another, rather strange point that I’d like to draw attention to is the number of times that the narrative goes off on a tangent and shoots for some hugely out of place, emotionally resonant moment. For instance, at one point during the film, Detective Mullins’ (McCarthy) brother, a reformed gang member, is shot and falls into a coma. We see Mullins holding vigil at her brother’s bedside in the hospital, which seems strange because such an intentionally touching and emotionally loaded scene seems to be such a stark departure from the tone of the film up until that point. There are other examples, but other flaws such as an overly-long run time, lackluster acting, and a transparent plot, will probably take precedence.
I cannot say that I would recommend The Heat, but that’s probably because my heart has lost it’s warmth and turned to black obsidian long ago. In all honestly, the vast majority or people will find it an enjoyable experience, but those seeking a well plotted story will be disappointed. Though not nearly as terrible as I assumed it would be, the film fails to deliver where it counts.
Rating 2.5 out of 5