The Heat Review

poster from the Twentieth Century Fox film The Heat 2013

Bridesmaids was a little grosser than I usually like my comedies, but I can’t deny that it’s opened up a lot of doors for female comedians. One by one the old male-dominated sub-genres are falling, with the latest one being the buddy cop genre. I enjoy buddy cop movies but sexism makes me angry, so even if The Heat looked dumb I probably would have seen it. Luckily it looked funny.

A braggart FBI agent meets her match when she tries to take over a drug case from a pushy Boston cop who terrorizes her entire precinct.

Now that I’ve seen it I can tell you that The Heat is indeed downright hilarious. The best part about it that it wasn’t the gross kind of funny like in Bridesmaids. There are lots of witty one liners, action scenes loaded with physical comedy, and the whole thing is a fairly apt satire of the cop movie genre, much like The Other Guys. It’s a great time. You should see it.

I laughed and I appreciated the satire and I supported the equal opportunity comedy but for me the most impressive thing about The Heat was that it managed to make me care about the main characters even though neither of them were particularly likeable. Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) is a New York FBI agent with an excellent record of case closures and a horrible record of dealing with other people. The other agents she works with (all men) hate her, and it’s not (just) because she’s a woman in a male-dominated profession. It’s because she’s a smug snob.

Ashburn finds hidden guns from the Twentieth Century Fox film The Heat 2013

Oh, what? You boys had no idea these were back here? That’s what I thought.

Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) is also abrasive to the point of being the terror of the office. She regularly threatens the lives of her (all male) co-workers in the Boston precinct, makes derogatory comments about her boss’s balls, and thinks nothing of abusing suspects and/or witnesses to get information out of them, none of which she’d ever get away with in real life. She’s like the Doctor House of police work.

Mullins looks for the Captains balls from the Twentieth Century Fox film The Heat 2013

Has anyone seen the Captain’s balls? They’re like tiny little girl balls… if girls had balls.

So why did I like them? The easy answer is that they’re hilarious. Mullins is the queen of put-downs and one-liners since she’ll go to more outrageous lengths than Ashburn (who won’t even swear). But Ashburn holds her own as well, with her strengths lying more in the areas of physical comedy and overconfidence. She thinks she can do anything, and when she was attempting to seductively dance her way into a bad guy’s pocket to steal his phone, I was dying.

Mullins and Ashburn dance from the Twentieth Century Fox film The Heat 2013

What? Yeah I can totally do this. I once watched an episode of Dancing With the Stars.

But there’s more to it than that. During the course of the movie we’re introduced to Mullins’ family (who are horrible) and we also get a glimpse into Ashburn’s personal life (which is empty and pathetic) so you can kind of see how they became insane lone wolf types. This background information also makes it much more believable that they would end up friends when they start the movie trying to beat each other senseless in front of a suspect.

The Captain breaks up a fight between Mullins and Ashburn from the Twentieth Century Fox film The Heat 2013

Ladies, ladies! No one will be slamming anyone’s head in a door 157,000 times.

Most of the movie is devoted to the two of them working out the details of their unlikely partnership and trying to track down some uber-mysterious drug dealer named Larkin, whom no one has ever seen. Their only way of getting to him is through Mullins’ screwup brother Jason (Michael Rapaport) and a small-time dealer name Rojas (Spoken Reasons) that Mullins brained with a watermelon earlier in the movie. During their investigation, they try all the typical cop-movie moves… which never work out like they’re supposed to.

Mullins and Ashburn dangle a suspect over a balcony from the Twentieth Century Fox film The Heat 2013

MULLINS (kidding): I can’t hold ya!
ASHBURN: Ok, let’s pull him up.
MULLINS: No, I’m not kidding anymore. I can’t lift him up!

In terms of subplots, there is also a tiny hint of romance. Mullins has a trail of guys she slept with following her around like discarded puppies and Levy (Marlon Wayans), the Boston FBI agent who’s helping Ashburn with research, is trying to find a way to ask her out without her turning him into a popsicle with a well-placed glare. It’s not a big subplot, but it does help to have at least one guy who’s not an idiot, a pushover, a misogynist, or a criminal.

Mullins and Ashburn with Levy from the Twentieth Century Fox film The Heat 2013

LEVY: I wanted to ask you–
ASHBURN: Sorry, I don’t date co-workers.
LEVY: — if you could please not speak to me that way.

So The Heat is hilarious, well-written, and empowering for women, which makes it great for a ladies’ night out. Bring your friends, your mom, your teenage nieces. Unfortunately the vast number of unfavorably portrayed males in this movie might bother some of the more sensitive guys, so you might not want to bring your boyfriend/father/guy friends if you’re worried they might experience those insulted feelings that you’ve gotten so used to over the years.

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