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

Heavy Hollywood headlines: Robert Horton’s movies preview

In the midst of all the sexual-misconduct allegations, the holiday film season offers some relief.

Celebrate Native American Heritage Month with reads, listens

Pay tribute to the contributions of indigenous people to national history and culture.

New York tabs share ‘I’m With Perv’ headlines on Trump

Both are reporting on the president’s backing of accused Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Where the wild things are in Snohomish

Step into the studio of Imps and Monsters creator Justin Hillgrove for a Black Friday sale.

Meet Nellie, Thor, Raven, Lola, Jasper, Gunner and Bella

These six dogs are waiting for loving homes.

Did you know? Bats edition

Worthwhile Everett library reading and viewing about bats of the animal, sport and hero varieties.

Sister is the victim of financial abuse

By Carolyn Hax / The Washington Post Dear Carolyn: My sister stays… Continue reading

Grandma’s fed up with kids’ disrespect for Thanksgiving traditions

By Tom and Dee Hardie with Key Kidder Dear Grandparenting: This is… Continue reading

Today in History: Nov. 22

Today is Wednesday, Nov. 22, the 326th day of 2017. There are… Continue reading

Most Read