The Heat: Buddy Cop Comedy at 10

Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in The Heat. Courtesy of 20th Century Studios.

The Heat, which marked its tenth anniversary in June, changes up the buddy cop comedy genre by having two female leads.

Paul Feig does a fantastic job at directing Katie Dippold’s first produced screenplay. This is a very funny screenplay that is made funnier by what Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy bring to the film. The two actresses built their characters from the ground up to where they have perfect chemistry going into production. Anyway, the thing I love about the film the most is how it gives us female leads in the genre. Call it a workplace film with action or a buddy cop comedy but it’s a nice change from the likes of Beverly Hills Cop and Lethal Weapon. McCarthy is hilarious as one would expect after Bridesmaids but Bullock plays it straight. Nothing gets too silly–this is a Paul Feig film so it’s going to be grounded to a point.

FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock), who lives for promotions, finds herself on an assignment for a mission in Boston. It’s in Boston where she meets Boston Police Department Detective Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy). The two have very different personalities and clash during their interrogations. The two are casing down any information that will lead to arresting a drug lord, Simon Larkin. Unfortunately, it also means confronting Mullins’ family so that they can get information from her brother, Jason (Michael Rapaport). They didn’t take well to Shannon previously arresting Jason. I’m not going to dive into the rest of the plot because of spoilers but it’s a lot of fun.

Katie Dippold originally wrote the film to take place in New York. Feig decided to change the setting to Boston, which really works better for the film. Not only does it allow for the film to utilize Boston landmarks but it enables audiences to see Bostonians on screen for a change. Every member of the Mullins family are Boston natives–how do they not have their own spinoff film yet?!? Anyway, there is a good amount of improvised lines that do not make it into the film. However, they make it onto the Blu-ray bonus features. Listen, I love New York and LA but it’s nice to get a reminder that other cities exist, too.

Films like The Heat were long overdue for what they bring to the screen. There’s an audience for female-led comedies but they just need the right ingredients to work well and be a success. Of course, it’s on the studios to take risks and giving them a chance. That’s what Bridesmaids had going for it and it’s what this one has, too. Another director or actors might not bring what Feig, Bullock, and McCarthy bring to the table. Meanwhile, I find myself asking if this would still be a theatrical film ten years later or go straight to a streaming service? I don’t know. Some comedies have managed to do well in the post-pandemic world while others have struggled to get off the ground.

The Heat is a breath of fresh air for what the film brings to the buddy cop comedy genre.

CAST: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Demián Bichir, Marlon Wayans, Michael Rapaport, Jane Curtin, Spoken Reasons, Dan Bakkedahl, Taran Killam, Michael McDonald, Tom Wilson

20th Century Fox released The Heat in theaters on June 28, 2013. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.