By: Holley Sinn
There's nothing so fun to watch as a dynamic comedic duo. It's the reason that "buddy-cop" comedies were born - to highlight that tricky relationship that is the workplace friendship. The formula is competitiveness plus dialogue plus intense situations equals bonding, and up until now, that genre has been largely male dominated. No longer. The pairing of Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in "The Heat" will undoubtedly go down in cinema history as one of those celebrated chemistries. One is a master of slapstick. The other needs no script. Together, they are a fierce, fabulous, phenomenally funny mess.
"The Heat" stars Sandra Bullock as FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn, a cocky team leader hoping for a promotion. When Ashburn is sent to Boston to take on a case involving an especially violent drug cartel she finds that she will not be investigating alone. Melissa McCarthy plays Shannon Mullins, a brash, mouthy Boston police officer with a special dedication to protecting her shady precinct. When Ashburn gets the directive to allow Mullins' involvement in her case, neither is initially pleased. However, Ashburn's buttoned-up tactics paired with Mullins' penchant for gun waving unite the two in a reluctant mutual respect.
When it becomes clear that the key to busting the cartel might lie with Shannon's ex-con brother, played by Michael Rapaport, Ashburn realizes that her partner's intensity is derived from her love for her family. A particularly hilarious bonding montage ensues, and the friends find themselves operating outside their directives to bring down an unexpected mole and his band of drug smugglers.
The formula here is nothing new. It's the delivery that makes "The Heat" a stand-out in its genre. Bullock falls down better than anybody in the business, and I'd like to see the screenplay for this film because I'm pretty sure McCarthy's lines all read "Mullins speaks here". That is to say, there is no one working today who can riff with the kind of panache that McCarthy can. Throw in some especially clever visual jokes, just enough realism to make these characters delightfully relatable, a pretty great cameo or two and you have the best comedy of the year so far, hands down.
"The Heat" is rated "R" for language, violence and sexual references, and it opens Friday in theaters all over the bay area.