Movie review: 'The Heat' odd couple cops keep you laughing

For the News-DemocratJune 27, 2013 

What It's About

Ta-da! A terrific female buddy cop franchise has arrived! The best summer comedy since "The Hangover," "The Heat" turns a formulaic genre film into a satisfying experience from start to finish. I laughed so much my sides ached.

Odd couple Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy create a formidable team, an unlikely pairing of uptight FBI special agent Ashburn and abrasive Boston cop Shannon Mullins hot on the trail of a drug lord. They head a cast of marvelous character actors who work together well, bringing out the best in the script.

Katie Dippold, a writer for the TV series "Parks and Recreation" and "MadTV," tapped into a rich vein of workplace humor, especially in the boys' club atmosphere of law enforcement, plus your usual gender differences, and alas, albino jabs.

Performances

As we know from her work in romantic comedies, Oscar winner Bullock can believably play a stuffed shirt prude who finally lets her guard down, and she's in her zone here, doing an impressive bob-and-weave with Oscar nominee McCarthy ("Bridesmaids"), who is one of the most fearless comic actresses at work today. Her vulgar, rough-around-the-edges, motormouth character Mullins doesn't have a filter, and McCarthy impeccably delivers comic gems.

The cast of familiar faces includes Biff from "Back to the Future" (Thomas F. Wilson) as the police chief, Sonny (Michael Tucci) from "Grease" as Shannon's dad, Jane Curtin as her mom, and Michael Rapaport, Bill Burr and Joey McIntyre are her loud, bickering brothers. Marlon Wayans is charming as a Boston FBI agent.

What Works

Thankfully, director Paul Feig's follow-up to the mega-hit "Bridesmaids" doesn't resemble that lightning-in-a-bottle hit. What it does have going for it is a giddy sense of fun -- the performers are on a roll and the audience is howling with laughter.

The neat freak and the slob scenario has worked well ever since Neil Simon created Oscar and Felix, and it's just as funny 50 years later. Add a know-it-all and seen-it-all skeptic, and the comedic conflicts are plentiful. That's why they've already announced a sequel.

A 70s-inspired credit sequence opens the movie, and a good mix of soul music and contemporary hip-hop frame the story.

What Doesn't Work

The police action might not be as authentically detailed as other law-and-order procedurals, but it's sufficient to keep the plot moving.

4 stars out of 4

Director: Paul Feig

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Sandra Bullock, Dan Bakkedahl, Demi(*135*)n Bichir, Jane Curtin, Marlon Wayans, Michael Rapaport, Thomas F. Wilson, Joey McIntyre, Taran Killam,

Rated: R for pervasive language, strong crude content and some violence

Length: 1:57

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