Watch The Heat Online There’s an inevitable question that will be asked now that America has seen The Heat: who’s funnier in the film? Sandra Bullock’s uptight, moderately hapless FBI agent Sarah Ashburn, or Melissa McCarthy’s wild and fearless Boston PD detective Shannon Mullins? It’s a fair question, but one that misses the point. Ashburn and Mullins are each strong, interesting characters, and Bullock and McCarthy are both hilarious and talented. But together, they’re like Voltron. They’re unstoppable.
Watch The Heat Online Free These two have the sort of comedic chemistry that studios could chase for decades and never successfully manufacture. The moment they share a scene together (about fifteen minutes into the movie, and fifteen minutes too long), it’s like magic. It’s alchemy. The Heat turns into something beyond special.
Watch The Heat Movie And it’s safe to say that is due almost entirely to Bullock and McCarthy, because the plot is sort of nothing. Not in an irritating way; director Paul Feig just wisely stays out of his stars’ path most of the time. Ashburn’s up for a promotion, but all of her colleagues hate her because she’s arrogant and competitive. She’s sent to Boston to track down a drug lord when, after a few bumps, she teams up with Mullins to bring him down, because Mullins has busted one of the drug lord’s underlings. Ashburn’s supervisor tells her she has to make this partnership work – despite Mullins’ unorthodox and slightly unhinged way of doing business – or she can kiss the promotion goodbye.
Watch The Heat Movie Online Obviously, this is bullshit. The Heat never gets preachy, but it doesn’t have to: it’s manifestly unjust that Ashburn, who is incredible at her job, should have to prove to her supervisor that she can play nice in order to get ahead. She’s closed more cases than anyone else in the department, but she’s competitive and arrogant, so she’s in hot water. You think that would be the case if she weren’t a woman? But I like that The Heat doesn’t waste any time spelling out this iniquity. This is a comedy; no time to break for sermons. Even when one of the many dudes working with her snorts to another, “Hard to believe she’s single.”
Watch The Heat Online And it’s Bullock’s delicious smugness that won me over within moments of her first scene. It’s a sort of clueless confidence – she is constantly marching off in the wrong direction, and I mean that literally. Ashburn’s inner compass is wrecked. It’s one of the little weirdnesses about her that make the character work. She’s brilliant and gorgeous and badass, but she’s also sort of pitiful. She borrows her unwitting neighbor’s cat for snuggles. She’s terrible at jokes. She is forever, as Mullins says, “making it weird.”
And this is where The Heat surprises, even from what we could have gathered from the trailer. Mullins, you see, is the cool one. She’s ice planet-cool. Sure, she’s messy and raunchy and loud, but she’s indomitable. She takes Ashburn under her wing somewhat and molds her. Gives her the right kind of confidence: the kind of confidence that makes a borrowed cat unnecessary, because now – now Ashburn has a friend. Like the best action movies, The Heat is truly about friendship, and it’s not only that Ashburn and Mullins complement each other professionally, both excelling at different areas of the job, but they each also fulfill something crucial the other was missing in her heart. (Sorry for making it weird, Mullins.)
And not for nothing, but there are zero fat jokes in The Heat. McCarthy isn’t cast for her stature here – she’s cast for her formidable presence and unerring timing. She’s remarkable in it. She and Bullock both are.
The Heat was written by Katie Dippold, a writer and producer on Parks and Recreation and MadTV, and I think I would have known the film was written by a woman even if I’d gone into it knowing nothing at all. Almost all of the jokes land, and there’s a reckless freedom to the way these women discuss the bawdiest of topics. The Heat is rated R, and it’s earned, but there’s more to it than (admittedly hilarious) punchlines about messy vaginas. Mullins and Ashburn are just people. They aren’t written as women. None of their problems (insecure male coworkers aside) are because they’re women; none of their virtues are either.
And here’s the most surprising part of The Heat: there is barely a love interest for either woman. Mullins has left a string of unrequited lovers across Boston (including McCarthy’s real-life husband Ben Falcone), and Ashburn has a mildly flirty exchange with a colleague played by Marlon Wayans. It’s also worth noting that this relationship is offhandedly biracial. Levy isn’t written as a quote-unquote “black character,” he’s just a hot dude who’s into Ashburn. It’s one of several ways in which The Heat casually breaks some of the stupid, unwritten rules of mainstream comedies.
If there’s a weakness in The Heat (other than the plot, which isn’t so much weak as unobtrusive), it’s that it goes on a bit too long. The movie doesn’t feel long, it’s just padded enough to keep it from being an unyielding assault of belly laughs. But there are tons of laughs, and they’re huge laughs, and unexpected, too. The Heat may be about 20 minutes too long for a non-stop joke riot, but I won’t complain about spending more time with Ashburn and Mullins. Bullock and McCarthy have created a comic duo for the ages, and I want more.