Buddy comedies… they’re nothing new. The formula is tried and tested. Normally, you take a tight ass and a slob / someone that doesn’t play by the rules and pair them together. The hilarity should therefore ensue. It’s quite honestly one of the most established forms of comedy you’ll get. I was going to list some examples here, but you’re all well aware of the films, right? Come on… I don’t need to list them. Good? Good. Glad we’re on the same page. That being said, if you’re going to attempt to pull it off in 2013, you best be packing some high calibre comedy ammo in that script, or have some lead actors in place that can pull it off with aplomb. This brings us to The Heat, which is conforming to every buddy film stereotype under the sun. Hell, it’s even a cop-based buddy movie… but with two solid female leads and the guy that wrote Bridesmaids behind it… is it hot, tepid or frankly cold and damp?
The Heat focuses on the team up of Agent Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) – the uptight FBI Special Agent that doesn’t really get along with many people, but is amazing at her job, and Detective Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) – the down-and-gritty Boston beat cop that has her own “unique” approach to police work. Between them they need to locate and take down a drug kingpin… and that’s it. That’s the plot, but it’s a comedy, so I’m not sure what you were expecting from it really. That’s not to short change the film though, as it does have its narrative twists and turns, but overall it’s a pretty straight-up, down-the-line, by-the-numbers, lots-of-hyphens type of film. Does it suffer from that? Well… a little.
The strength of this film MUST rest with its lead actors, and thankfully both Bullock and McCarthy are on form here. Bullock always does a good job of playing the naive one in a “buddy” film, with Demolition Man springing to the forefront of my mind… damn, now that’s a good movie. Anyway, back on track, she’s solid and reliable, as always. McCarthy, similarly is establishing herself as a comedic force to be reckoned with in Hollywood. The fact that so much of the scripting in this is ad-libbed is also gratifying to know, as I think it keeps things fresh and lets the emotions run wild with the actors. All that being said… I just didn’t find the film overly funny. It had its scenes that made me smile, but nothing really made me guffaw.
Maybe this all comes back to the hard and cold fact that I’m a hard taskmaster to please. In my screening, a good chunk of the audience were whooping and laughing at absolutely anything. If I’m honest, I think they’d also have got equally excited at watching water hit the windscreen on a car. They just seemed quite simple. I’m not joking… there’s a scene where Melissa McCarthy drinks a pint. Nothing funny: just drinking. That’s apparently funny. I clearly don’t “get it”. Maybe McCarthy is a lot like Zach Galiafianakis – you either find every one of his motions hysterical, or you really don’t understand what all the fuss is about. This isn’t to say I don’t find McCarthy funny, as I do, but I don’t hang off of her every motion.
The real issue with the film is inherent to the genre… it’s all too predictable. The characters are flawed, and you immediately know what the outcome will be. There are no elaborate tricks or techniques to shake up the formula; it all plays out exactly as you’d expect. The film therefore needs to fall back on its humour, which for the most part seems to please general audiences, although I did find myself lacking as I’ve just babbled on about. Speaking of babbling, I’m also finding myself running out of words to describe this film. Perhaps that’s the true issue with the film… I just struggled to really care about it. I felt like I could have walked out 1/3 of the way in and predicted everything that’d happen. Even the jokes, thanks to the trailers giving away the big laughs. With that said… let’s take this review off the heat and let it cool shall we?
The Heat has its moments, and thanks to two strong leads will keep fans of raucous comedies entertained. However, for the rest of us seeking something a bit more cerebral or interesting it falls short of the mark. The plotting is too predictable and the jokes sometimes just feel too cheap to really enthral The Phage. Maybe that’s due our Britishness in not finding a Boston accent *the* most hilarious thing you’ve ever heard (it’s not)… that forms a good 5 minutes of joke space in this film, for instance. So whilst not a failure, The Heat certainly only delivers a luke-warm slice of cinematic comedy.
I almost wonder if there’s a book in Hollywood containing the “A-Z of Buddy Cop Clichés”. Whilst The Heat didn’t conform to every single stereotype, it hardly reinvented the wheel either. Hell, even adding a third lead character would make for a slightly different “buddy” film. Or maybe Me, Myself and Irene already pseudo did that with Jim Carrey‘s split personalities? Who knows! Regardless, I’ve already made my “heat” based puns in the previous paragraph… so let’s just end this shall we? See… even I can repeat lines, just like The Heat, really…