In a lot of ways, this McCarthy vehicle would have been more appropriately titled “Identity Thief” as it’s just another in a long line of imitators in the mismatched cop partner comedy genre.
Whatever the name, this alleged comedy should be locked up for its criminal misuse of talent.
Bullock, (playing a less interesting version of her uptight, FBI agent role in “Ms. Congeniality,”) is Sarah Ashburn, a cocky FBI agent that annoys her co-workers with her know-it-all attitude. She’s been assigned to Boston to aid in apprehending a major drug lord, but has to deal with Mullins (McCarthy, “The Hangover Part III“), a foul-mouthed, perpetually pissed-off police detective unaccustomed to sharing “her turf.” The two bicker, then bond over drinks at a bar, have a falling-out and then patch things up in time to stop the bad guy. The film carefully sticks to the established rules of the genre without shaking things up at all despite the endless potential of its premise and charming leads.
McCarthy is too talented to be stuck in an endless loop playing Megan, her refreshingly original “Bridesmaids” character that earned her an Academy Award Best Supporting Actress nomination. You can tell Mullins was written specifically with McCarthy channeling Megan yet again just with grimier hair and worse language.
Director Paul Feig, who also helmed “Bridesmaids,” isn’t much help as he’s comfortable just letting McCarthy loose and ranting her way through establishing a truly unlikable character. In Bullock, he’s got another fearless actress willing to try anything, but he never creates those scenes that make it more than a brilliant idea on paper.
Screenwriter Katie Dippold (“Parks and Recreation”) kills the film by not giving audiences enough credit that we’d want to see a female buddy cop movie that’s actually a female buddy cop movie.
There’s hardly any dialogue that would need to be changed if Ashburn and Mullins were played by Adam Sandler and Kevin James instead, which is a shame since the beyond stale buddy cop genre desperately needed a fresh take beyond merely switching genders. For fun, try tallying the number of “F-bombs” you hear and see how long before you run out of space, ink or patience.
It says a lot that Marlon Wayans (“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra“) offers the most likable and reserved performance as Ashburn’s FBI colleague, Levy. It’s a nice change for Wayans, who isn’t asked to be the over-the-top comic relief for once and he’s such a welcome reprieve from the other characters, he deserved more screen time.
The most frustrating aspect about “The Heat” is that more effort seemed to be invested in making this not work than putting together a film that delivered something more for audiences than warmed-over leftovers recalling better films from its stars.
Rating: 3 out of 10