Retired American comedian Jerry Lewis once made the very bold and brash statement that woman aren’t funny. “I cannot sit and watch a lady diminish her qualities to the lowest common denominator,” he said. “I just can’t do that.” It’s an argument that director Paul Feig is clearly trying to negate as he follows up his hit comedy Bridesmaids with The Heat, a buddy cop film featuring two eccentric female leads. While Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy do bring the laughs, it’s usually when they are aggressively mimicking Bad Boys/21 Jump Street characters – foul mouthed, loud, mean-spirited, offensive and very masculine. Perhaps Lewis has a point. Watching The Heat is funny but awkward.
In a familiar narrative, two mismatched cops from two very different sides of town clash on screen in this hit-or-miss comedy. Sandra Bullock plays her familiar nerdy, straight-laced, stern, by-the-book F.B.I agent (Sarah Ashburn) down to the T, while McCarthy plays a raunchy, potty-mouthed, loose-cannon, off-the-wall, street-smart cop (Shannon Mullins). They are obliged to work together to bring down a notorious drug kingpin and begin an adventure that sees them becoming besties in the midst of gunshots, interrogations, police corruption and melodramatic family moments.
The Heat, which has an overlong running time of nearly two hours, loses its grip on the audience midway, where the jokes/characters become too crude and the story becomes too predictable, smothered under a pile of clichés. Salty-tongued McCarthy pinches the majority of the laughs, leaving Bullock looking stale, but does nothing to sway Jerry Lewis’ beliefs that woman are only funny when they’re pretending to be men. “Hey has anyone seen the captain’s balls? Let me know. They’re about this big. They’re like really, really tiny little girl balls, if little girls had balls,” she insults in one scene. Is this how woman talk now?
As a film aimed at woman, it misses the mark completely. The Heat seems misogynistic, even if it’s coming from a female lead cast. That aside, there are a number of clever gags hidden within the rubble. You’re bound to laugh at some of McCarthy’s over-the-top conduct, especially during her opening scene.