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Review: Girl power fuels 'The Heat'

Published On: Jun 28 2013 09:52:16 AM CDT
Updated On: Jun 28 2013 09:52:54 AM CDT
The Heat

Twentieth Century Fox

With the same tempo and temper as "Bridesmaids" and "Identity Thief," and plenty of F-bombs, director Paul Feig creates a different kind of chick flick.

"The Heat" stars Sandra Bullock as a button-upped, by-the-book FBI agent named Sarah Ashburn who is sent from New York to Boston to track down a drug kingpin. If she makes good on this, she'll get a big promotion. There's nothing to stand in her way except Melissa McCarthy as a renegade Boston cop named Shannon Mullins, who takes down bad guys in an unorthodox way and has the entire police force wrapped around her motorcycle-gloved fingers.

In a script written by Katie Dippold of NBC's "Parks and Recreation," the one liners and laugh-out-loud jokes arrive fast and furious. The only thing wrong with "The Heat" is that it is so concerned with breaking new ground as a girlfriend-besties buddy cop movie, that it trips over itself in the actual storyline department. We haven't seen this before, really? Oh, maybe in "Lethal Weapon" or the recent "21 Jump Street" --  a pair of mismatched police types end up finding common ground and everything wraps up nice and neat.

Still, Bullock and McCarthy have such great chemistry and appear to be having such a blast onscreen, there's no way to not love "The Heat." And although Bullock's played this same type of role before, McCarthy gets her out of her typical groove for some pretty impressive physical comedy. There are times, however, that McCarthy can't help but carry the film (she's given the better laughs) leaving Bullock holding the bag as a sidekick.

What Feig lacks in the pacing department he makes up for in the knowing how to play a gag. When Mullins' overbearing Southie-mouthed family has to squeeze into a Town 'N' Country (including Jane Curtin as a overbearing Boston mom) to get them out of harm's way, it's funnier than a clown car. Question, though? If Mullins is such a hometown girl, why does everyone in her family sound like they came out of "Ted" or "The Fighter," but she doesn't have a hint of an accent? How about a riff on that? There are certainly jokes for everything else from Ashburn's Spanx to Mullins' face, who is described as looking like one of the Campbell's Soup kids "that grew up and became an alcoholic."

"The Heat" is peppered with fun touches, including a hilarious opening montage that's a take off on '70s TV cop shows a la "Charlie's Angels" and "Mod Squad" and a closing sequence that finishes the film as the credits are rolling.

What doesn't work, however, is the emotional sap built in to the script as Mullins tries to save her brother, newly out of prison, from getting mixed up in a drug ring and a ridiculous emergency tracheotomy in a Denny's that should have been left on the cutting room floor. Yet, there's so much comic redemption throughout, it's easy to forgive a couple of missteps.

Supporting characters give an extra boost including Marlon Wayans as an FBI agent who may or may not have the hots for Ashburn, and Demián Bichir as Bullock's flustered FBI boss, who was cast, no doubt, because he sounds like Antonio Banderas, setting him up for more than a few "Puss in Boots" jokes.

"The Heat" is a perfect solution to the summertime blues. Sit back, relax, and let the potty-mouthed humor fly.

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