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

  • By Roger Moore McClatchy-Tribune News Service
  • Wednesday, June 26, 2013 6:05pm
  • LifeGo-See-DoMovies

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

Ice queen: Local women’s hockey team founder is fearless

Leslie Tidball’s fearless competitive spirit keeps her going strong in ice hockey at 64 years old.

Sarita Viramontiz attempts a start off the blocks during an open house at the Granite Curling Club Sunday night in Seattle on February 18, 2018. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Granite Curling Club hosts open houses to teach the Olympic sport

With the 2018 Winter Games wrapping up, the club expects its informal classes to fill up quickly.

How to entice a wide range of winged friends to your yard

A Tulalip Bay couple shares how they encourage birds, bees and butterflies to visit their garden.

You can bird-proof your home to prevent window deaths

Studies estimate that billions of birds die after crashing into glass in the U.S. each year.

American horror: What can we do to prevent mass murder?

There isn’t a single cause or a single solution for deathly shootings like the one in Florida.

Making chores fun: Clean up the kitchen in five easy steps

“Zone cleaning” is to do one step at a time, which means that chores aren’t overwhelming.

Discovering the romance of Germany’s Black Forest

Avoid the tourist traps and immerse yourself in the region’s charming countryside.

Growing up: Some plants go through changes not unlike puberty

Arborvitae, junipers, spruce and pines, for example, exhibit juvenile and adult characteristics.

Decorated ceramic pig bares famous Wemyss Ware trademark

Very early flower-decorated pigs from Wemyss Ware have auctioned for over $30,000.

Most Read