Review: The Heat (15)

Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in The Heat
Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in The Heat
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FOR what is a formulaic buddy film featuring an ill-matched duo, The Heat boasts one of the most inspired comic pairings in years.

Sandra Bullock is the clean-cut, over-achieving FBI agent with an eye on promotion forced into an uneasy partnership with slobbish, foul-mouthed Boston cop Melissa (Bridesmaids) McCarthy.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that this odd couple will soon be at each other’s throats as they careen around the city seeking to unmask a vicious drug lord. And as their investigations take them ever closer to their prey, so their mutual loathing takes centre stage as unorthodox methods and snappy one-liners collide with by-the-book fastidiousness and po-faced crispness.

Bullock is a canny lass. She develops a project built around her established onscreen persona – sexy, ditzy, girl-next-door – and then selects as her co-star an actress who stole the show in Bridesmaids and reunites her with Paul Feig, its director. And McCarthy does the same here. Bullock often acts as a foil to McCarthy’s OTT eye-rolling and glorious invective. In that respect The Heat is McCarthy’s movie. With any other comic it wouldn’t work.

There is no need to dress it up: this film is funny. McCarthy comes from the ratatat school of fast-talkin’ insult humour. And, like all good straight (wo)men, Bullock knows just when to rein back, thus giving the floor to her raging pal. The story is redolent of a zillion other bickering buddy/cop flicks. The difference here is that Bullock and McCarthy almost manage to transcend the lot. A sequel is already in the works.

Tony Earnshaw ****