Don't be put off by the disastrous marketing campaign, Paul Feig's follow-up to Bridesmaids might be the funniest thing you see this year.
Some films seem to go out of their way to put you off the scent. The trailers for The Heat were so toe-curlingly odious, so despicably unflinching in their perverted desire to bland the film out into a high white noise of airplane-movie disposability that expectations were not so much low as antipodean.
The advertising posters were similarly counterproductive, with de facto crowd-puller Melissa McCarthy — an actress who has harnessed her perceived physical flaws into across-the-board box-office appeal — being airbrushed and/or bleached out/and or silhouetted (depending on the promotional material in question) to an empty negative space of Marketing Department second-guessing. McCarthy made her name in Bridesmaids as a big, gauche fatty. Audiences love her as a big, gauche fatty. Why, then, serve her up on posters as a clear-skinned, puppy-fat dreamboat?
Either way, anyway and despite it all, The Heat is a surprisingly enjoyable comedy directed by Bridesmaids' Paul Feig from a script by sometime Parks and Recreation writer Katie Dippold. The set-up might come from a straight-to-vid '80s buddy-cop shelf-filler — and for once The Heat’s PR machine is unsparingly reductive with a synopsis that tells of 'an uptight FBI Special Agent paired with a foul-mouthed Boston cop take down a ruthless drug lord'. But this kind of film has always regarded plot as nothing more than a peg upon which to hang it’s voluminous clown pants. And so – in the mould of such time-honoured classics as 48 Hrs., Midnight Run and Pineapple Express — it goes.
Do the mismatched pair bicker and backbite? Do they bond over brewskis in McCarthy’s local dive-bar? Are there endless gags about straight-arrow career gal Bullock’s vagina atrophying due to prolonged inactivity? Do we meet McCarthy’s extended Boston-Irish family of feckless, vowel-mangling Wahlberg-ian freaks? Yes, yes, oh yes. It’s route-one stuff to be sure, and must have looked pretty lifeless on paper. But — to appropriate a famous saying — movies are made on film, not on paper, and The Heat might be the funniest thing you’ll see onscreen this year.
Bullock — who made her name as an energetic, self-deprecating funster in the superior likes of Miss Congeniality and All About Steve before her off-putting Right-turn into the Oscar-baiting histrionics of The Blind Side — returns to comedic form as the Fed with an ass tighter than a mosquito’s tweeter who gets shunted off to Beantown to hunt down the mysterious-yet-generic drug kingpin who is treating McCarthy’s backyard Boston beat like a baby treats a nappy.
McCarthy is the yin to Sandy’s pin-stripe yang, letting it all hang out as the slobby, potty-gobbed local cop Bullock is partnered with. Their onscreen chemistry may take a little while to properly infuse, but when it does, it makes for a fairly unstoppable comedic force, and on the strength of this showing (not to mention the big, big box-office bucks in the US), this will surely not be the last time we see these two buddy-up onscreen.
A dreadful trailer, some desperate poster images and Bullock’s recent batting average all point to an outright stinkeroo.
A studio comedy that keeps you giggling all the way. Careful, Hollywood — we could get used to this.
The bland visuals and point-and-shoot directorial style mean that not much sticks in the mind, but ‘The Heat II’ would be an entirely welcome proposition.