There is a lot written about The Heat being formulaic, unevenly paced, predictable, and weakly plotted. Who cares? Melissa McCarthy is so fantastic, so fresh, so ferociously funny she could read a phone book and it would be interesting and hilarious. Her explosive talent is only enhanced when she is paired with Sandra Bullock. Bullock, playing the straight here is smart enough and gracious enough to let McCarthy soar, even to the point of the audience being clearly on McCarthy’s side in their duel, throughout most of the movie. Bullock’s reactions to McCarthy’s outrageous behavior are measured and squarely put the audience in her position. Most often she just looks incredulous or blasé, like the audience she doesn’t have time to really understand what just happened. By keeping her performance restrained Bullock not only serves her co-star, but she shrewdly deepens her characterization of Ashburn, so that when she finally loses her control and pulls a Mullins (McCarthy’s character) she reaps huge laughs.
The plot vaguely involves a Boston drug lord (even this seems odd- why not Miami) and a major shipment coming into Boston via boat. Ashburn (Bullock) is up for a promotion and has been sent up from New York City to assist the Boston PD in a huge drug trafficking case. In the past, her arrogant, reckless behavior has alienated her FBI co-workers and her boss played by Demian Bichir informs her if she plays nice with the Boston PD she has a chance at the promotion. Of course she is paired with Mullins, who is profane, outrageous and more reckless than she is. Perhaps the Boston setting was chosen so that we could we could meet Mullins outrageous family, who massacre the English language with their thick Boston accents. However, even the cliché of the thick Boston accent is funny because the audience is having such a great time. Michael Rapaport plays Mullins ex-con brother and his sketchy past and how he got arrested is woven effectively into the plot and enhances Mullin’s characterization.
But the plot isn’t really what is interesting here. It’s the duo’s interactions and performances that make this such an enjoyable romp and very much worth the ticket price. Although I don’t use the term often, McCarthy is akin to genius and I am, as we all should be, grateful that she is on the planet making movie mayhem.