Bullock, McCarthy can’t warm up flat ‘Heat’

Give it up for Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. You’ll never see them work harder at comedy than in “The Heat,” a stumbling, aggressively loud and profane cop buddy picture where they struggle to wring “funny” out of a script that isn’t.

Plot? It’s more a collection of scenes that force the stars to riff and riff until something coarse and amusing comes out, topped by something else coarser and more amusing.

Instructions must have read, “Sandy and Melissa go to a dance club, where Melissa hacks off chunks of Sandy’s costume to make her ‘sexy.’” Or “Melissa and Sandy get drunk in a bar and line dance.”

Better still, “Our intrepid, mismatched ‘buddies’ are tied up by the bad guys and turn a simple leg stabbing into a comic escape attempt.”

Bullock, finally back to making the sorts of “Miss Congeniality” dogs she was doing before “The Blind Side,” is the know-it-all overly coiffed FBI agent Ashburn, a Miss Priss none of her fellow agents like. She is sent to Boston, ostensibly to prep for a promotion. Mainly, it’s to get her out of the hair of her boss (Demian Bichir).

That’s where Ashburn runs afoul of the foul-mouthed Detective Mullins (McCarthy), a shambling train wreck of the American junk food diet run amok.

She’s so irritable that her boss (Tom Wilson of “Back to the Future”) is as afraid of her as her favorite drug-dealing perp (Spoken Reasons is this caricature’s stage name).

Ashburn, who has been a bit of a Bullock in a china shop up to now, has met her menacing, mouthy match.

The jokes — often a string of profane threats strung together by McCarthy — have a sitcom / stand-up rhythm: ba DUM bum.

Director Paul Feig, whose life changed with the fluky blockbuster “Bridesmaids,” shoots Bullock in her requisite vanity lighting and McCarthy at her chef-pants wearing worst.

For a guy who has spent much of the year defending McCarthy from insults based on her role in “Identity Thief,” about her short height and considerable width, he’s certainly not shy about using those attributes for a laugh.

And McCarthy, like Bullock, is nothing if not game. She wriggles through car windows, takes pratfalls, wrestles with Bullock to be the first through doorways and swaggers through the picture in the same costume, first scene to last. The woman is funny, and many of her scenes deliver a wincing comic punch.

The fact that we meet her braying Boston family (Jane Curtin is her shrill mom) and McCarthy’s the only one who didn’t attempt the accent? We don’t dare call that lazy.

Which is more than you can say about Katie Dippold, the screenwriter.

But it’ll be a hit, Feig will work again, Dippold will get another shot and McCarthy will roll on. She has the timing, the riff repertoire and that ineffable something that film fans have loved in comics from Fatty Arbuckle and Oliver Hardy to Belushi and Chris Farley.

We’re just not allowed to say what that is.

“The Heat” (one and a half stars)

Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, two capable actors, work hard for laughs with a script that isn’t funny. Both are game for anything but the cliches line up like dominoes in this raunchy copy buddy film. With Demian Bichir and Marlon Wayans.

Rated: R for language, subject matter, violence.

Showing: Alderwood Mall, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Stanwood, Meridian, Oak Tree, Sundance, Woodinville, Cascade Mall.

More in Life

For Texas BBQ, look for the school bus at the reptile museum

This husband-and-wife team has been serving up brisket and more for a decade in Monroe.

This new Pacific Northwest history textbook is a page turner

Opportunity, growth, conflict. It all happened here, historian David Jepsen says. “Snohomish… Continue reading

The ‘Whimsical Woman’ shares what she learns on the trail

Jennifer Mabus came here from Nevada and Hawaii. She leads hikes and blogs about them.

Restored historic bungalow is featured Everett Home Tour stop

The new owners received high praise from previous inhabitants for preserving its character.

Oh, the horrors! ‘mother’ an exhausting carnival of chaos

What is “mother!”? The coy publicity for this non-capitalized movie hasn’t revealed… Continue reading

Urban trails: 10 hiking destinations close to home

You don’t have to go into the backcountry to hike through Snohomish… Continue reading

Glamping: This mom’s new fav way to do family vacations

After spending the summer searching for the perfect tent trailer, I finally… Continue reading

This father’s reflections on the joys and fears of parenthood

I loved having children. It’s been one of the high points of… Continue reading

Most Read