‘The Heat’ Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated November 15th, 2014 at 12:26 am,

heat review bullock mccarthy The Heat Review

If you’re a dedicated fan of McCarthy’s brand of comedy – or you have enjoyed Feig’s previous funny offerings on the small/big screen – then there’s enough quality material in The Heat.

The Heat introduces us to Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock), a talented FBI special agent whose uptight manner and know-it-all attitude makes her the bane of her male peers. When the opportunity for a promotion comes about, Sarah’s boss Hale (Demián Bichir) gives her the chance to prove she can be a team-player, by assigning her to take down a ruthless Boston drug lord with assistance from a local cop.

Unfortunately, the police officer in question is Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy), a foul-mouthed and tough as nails Bostonian who immediately gets off on the wrong foot with her polar opposite, in Ashburn. Can this odd couple put aside their differences, in order to solve the case – one which involves violent criminals, drug dealers, and DEA agents – and maybe even become friends in the process?

The Heat is directed by Paul Feig, whose approach to comedy – on such television shows as Arrested Development and The Office and the 2011 raunchy sleeper hit Bridesmaids – tends to be dialogue-heavy and often seems improvisational. His latest film feels like a spiritual companion to Bridesmaids in particular, for several reasons besides the fact that both movies feature women protagonists (and include McCarthy as a cast member). The final results aren’t as consistently funny or heart-warming in The Heat as they were in Feig’s previous comedienne vehicle; nevertheless, the director’s modern feminine spin on the buddy-cop formula is a satisfying experience.

heat movie review bullock mccarthy The Heat Review

Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in ‘The Heat’

Bullock and McCarthy make for a decent onscreen pairing, but the duo’s success can largely be attributed to the latter’s sheer verbal and physical comedic prowess in the film; The Heat is more worthy of McCarthy’s talents than Identity Thief from earlier this year. Feig often just steps back and keeps the camera rolling, all while the actress pulls off a variety of impressive slapstick maneuvers and verbal zingers throughout the film’s running time (and even demonstrates her dramatic chops in the movie’s few sentimental moments). Bullock, by comparison, makes for a passable and intentionally-awkward straight (wo)man, but there’s no question: she gets upstaged by McCarthy.

The film’s script by Katie Dippold (a co-showrunner on Parks and Recreation) offers a distinct – and considerate – female perspective on buddy genre conventions, in addition to contemporary gender dynamics in the workplace. Dippold accomplishes this by means that are both obvious – like a running joke where McCarthy keeps on running into her clingy one-night stands – and more subtle, such as how neither of the main characters ever use either variation on “the B-word.” Problem is, the film’s narrative is too loosely-structured at times, giving rise to comical sequences that carry on for too long; not to mention, tender emotional moments that are clunkily juxtaposed with zany comedy beats (which undermines the commentary in Dippold’s script).

heat review bullock mccarthy wilson The Heat Review

Melissa McCarthy, Thomas F. Wilson and Sandra Bullock in ‘The Heat’

Feig keeps everything moving at a healthy pace, which allows The Heat to pack enough in the way of humorous firepower and jokes where, at the end of the day, the hits outnumber the misses. Because Feig’s directorial style is a better match for TV than film – with regard to how shots are framed and edited together – The Heat lacks the necessary cinematic kinesthetics that could’ve given the humorous beats more punch and elevated the satire of the intentional low-key climax (like what Edgar Wright did in Hot Fuzz). Fortunately, the majority of the jokes are either on-target or close enough to the mark to make up for this, despite some noteworthy miscalculated attempts at humor (like an out-of-place gory gag in the third act).

The male supporting cast are, likewise, more successful than not as a whole. That includes a refreshingly buttoned-down Marlon Wayans as an FBI agent who assists Bullock and Thomas F. Wilson (a.k.a. Biff from the Back to the Future trilogy) as McCarthy’s weak-kneed boss. In addition, Dan Bakkedahl (This Is 40) plays a DEA agent, whose Albino appearance and distaste for women being on the task force make the character a (flat) joke. Similarly, the rowdy members of McCarthy’s very stereotypical Boston family – including Michael Rapaport as her brother – are a bit too cartoonish, but aren’t onscreen too long to become a significant problem.

The Heat Screenwriter Inks New Deal The Heat Review

By the time The Heat reaches its conclusion (followed by a mid-credits scene), it has provided a fair amount of belly-laughs and missed opportunities alike. The film is not a fantastic and subversive spin on the buddy-cop formula, but it does manage to mix things up without feeling like little more than a generic addition to the genre (with the traditional male leads played by women instead). Much of that success can be credited to McCarthy, who’s still on the search for a headlining vehicle that’s fully worthy of her talents.

Having said that, if you’re a dedicated fan of McCarthy’s brand of comedy – or you have enjoyed Feig’s previous funny offerings on the small/big screen – then there’s enough quality material in The Heat to make it worth a recommendation.

If you’re still on the fence about The Heat, then check out the trailer below:


[poll id="636"]


The Heat is 117 minutes long and Rated R for pervasive language, strong crude content and some violence. Now playing in theaters.

Our Rating:

3 out of 5

Follow Sandy Schaefer on Twitter @feynmanguy
TAGS: The heat
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  1. I assume by “either variation of the B-word” you mean b**** or Beee-och.

    Unless there is another B word I’m not familiar with.

    Melissa McCarthy uses her physicality and comedic talents to get your guard down, and then can whomp you with a dramatic moment that stands you on your head.

    Her quit moment with Wigg in Bridesmaids was touching and poignant, without going into “you think you have it so bad” territory. Its my favorite part of that movie.

    • It was terrible improv.

  2. I was not won over the the combo of Bullock and McCarthy. To read why, check out my review: [LINK REMOVED]

    • For future reference, we’d prefer it if you didn’t link to other reviews (including your own) in the comments section of our articles.


      • *SNAP*

        • *oh no he didn’t

      • “We” or YOU? Other writers on this site are confident enough in their reviews to allow it…

        • No they arent i asked vic its not allowed. You can do it in the open discussion tho

          • Word

          • Really, I was just hoping anyone but Sandy would review this film; someone with taste, who doesn’t condescend their readers

            • I would’ve sugar coated it myself, but yeah, Sandy seems to love terrible movies.
              And her article about the new Human Torch basically said that anyone who didn’t agree with the casting decision was racist. It was horrible.

              • @ cranium7/EVTM

                First off… dude, I can see that you’re pretending to be two different people. Please stop.

                Second… you can disagree with my review, or anything I write for that matter, but just be respectful about it. There’s no need to say that I (or anyone else) has bad taste, just because you disagree.

                Third… as far as the F4 stuff is concerned, I admit that I took more of a hostile approach than I meant to. That’s why I wrote this followup, to make up for that mistake and better explain my meaning: http://screenrant.com/fantastic-four-reboot-michael-b-jordan-human-torch/

                Fourth… yeah, I’m a guy. Next time, I suggest you click on the writer’s bio ahead of time.

                • Actually, EVTM isn’t me, but we do work together. And with your review of THE BIG WEDDING, I automatically assumed female…didn’t even read the author’s name; but I do apologize for getting your gender wrong.
                  Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I’m having a really hard time figuring out what could’ve possibly earned this flick 3 stars; did you think it was out of 10?

                  • I like Sandy’s writing. He’s one of the best writers on Screen Rant. He’s fair, accurate, and obviously a smart person.

                    The Heat is exactly what it set out to be….. A buddy cop movie comedy with women protagonists. Can you name a better one?

                    No, you can’t.

                    3 stars is the right rating for this movie. My wife and my mom enjoyed this movie thoroughly. They didn’t mind the profanity. And you know what? I laughed too. If you’re a 20 year old guy that wants macho posturing, kick-ass action and explosions, then you’re not the demographic that this movie was aiming for. Go see White House Down instead.

                    • The only possible reason I didn’t like is because I must be some 20yr old kick looking for explosions? Really?
                      I didn’t like it because it was the Starsky & Hutch remake meets Cop Out, but both of those movies had a stronger plot. This film had no structure to it at all, no real character development, and the two leads had no working chemistry. The supporting cast didn’t even attempt to add anything to the film.
                      Instead of providing us a strong, funny, female buddy cop film, the studio treated the idea of two female cops as a gimmick and didn’t give it the respect the concept deserved.
                      If you’re ok with a film with two strong female leads not be taken seriously by any of the filmmakers, that’s on you. Personally, I believed it deserved the same attention as Lethal Weapon or films like that.
                      My wife was bored by it.

        • False.

    • @SnarkFilm,
      OOOOH SNAP!!!

  3. Hmm, so this movie won’t make me like McCarthy then by the sound of it?

    It’s a shame too because people say she’s talented, funny and a joy to watch but I just don’t see it (not yet anyway).

    Doesn’t sound like it would’ve made waves anyway, few buddy comedies really work out unless you have the magic of great writing, great casting and chemistry between the leads (which is why Planes, Trains & Automobiles will always be king in the buddy movie genre).

    • @ Dazz
      Have you seen her on SNL?
      If not, check it out.
      If so, ignore the rest of my comment. ;)
      Other than Bridesmaids the other movies I’ve seen her in would be bad with or without her and her show Mike & Molly is terrible. It’s just 22 minutes of fat jokes…
      But the 2 episodes of SNL she’s done are pretty great. Each episode shows off her gift for physical comedy and her ability to play different characters.

      • Thanks, I might check that out then (the SNL skits).

        Honestly didn’t know she was in Mike & Molly but as you said, the commercials I always used to watch during The Office and various stand up shows on Comedy Central made it look as unfunny as Chuck Lorre’s other shows so I haven’t bothered with that either.

  4. I’m glad this is a pretty decent film because my wife says it’s mandatory we go see it. Nice review, Sandy.

  5. Three stars? Really!? This film was nothing more than a gimmicky cash grab. Bullock & McCarthy have zero chemistry. Someone needs to learn to reign McCarthy in sometimes. The entire supporting cast simply phoned it in after realizing they weren’t in a real movie, at least not one with a real plot our any form of structure at all.

    • When it comes to comedies, the “cash grab” thing doesn’t matter, nor does story structure, plot, etc. The only thing that matters is “Does it make you laugh?” That’s a BIG yes with this movie. Is it one of the most memorable comedies of all time? No? Did my wife and I roll in the aisles for two hours straight? Yep!

      • Yeah but others won’t find it funny so all comments on comedy movies should be seen as subjective to personal tastes.

        I knew people who laughed throughout The Hangover and American Pie while I sat bored waiting for something funny to happen. Different tastes and such.

  6. ¡¡¡SPOILER ALERT!!!

    The climax made literally no sense whatsoever! She got stab in the leg with a tiny knife, so why couldn’t she walk? Only one leg had a tiny wound! She can’t so much as limp, but she can launch herself across the floor somehow!? Then they put her on a stretcher on have her lay on the side that has the wound!!!


  7. I’m gonna pass on this. I’m a fan of Bullock, not so much MM. Her brand of comedy falls flat on me.

    • Umm ok 2 things let me stab you in the leg and see how you feel and it was a movie a movie

      • Been stabbed in the leg. Sliced the meat down to the bone. I then climbed a mountain on twolegs, then got help to a hospital…which I walked in to.

        It was a baaaaaaad movie.

  8. Just send Screenrant a sizable check. Like the craptastic movies that wind up with a 4 rating and massively advertised on the site, you’ll be able to do anything you want. Send them enough, and you can get a full-sized, pop-up splash page with your review link smack dab in the middle! Those are the best ads!

    • That’s pretty disrespectful to the hard-working writers who write these reviews. I’m not going to make horrible accusations or troll you, but these types of comments are depressing and demotivating knowing how many hours myself and the other guys put into the site behind-the-scenes. Who thinks like this?

      • Although I stand by my opinion of Sandy’s articles, I don’t believe for a second that any of the screenrant staff is paid off by anyone. It’s why I love this site so much. I know the work that goes into this and I respect that.

    • LOL. I visit this site DAILY so as much as I hate to, but after THIS review I have to agree with you to some extent lol. I mean this film was absolutely DREADFUL (I have a wife so I occasionally HAVE to see these films BEFORE catching them on cable on a boring night months later like normal guys). I actually like Sandra Bullock so I put aside the fact that I can’t stand Melissa McCarthy (her character in Identity Thief was PAINFULLY annoying), and decided to give it a fair shake and was letdown once again. DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOUR INSTINCTS ARE CORRECT!!!!!!!!!


        …SO as much as I hate to, after this review I have to agree…*

    • One thing of the many on the net that bothers me is why do people get so upset over movie reviews???
      Do people realize they can make up their own mind?
      The assumption of someone being paid to write a 3 star review is ridiculous mostly because 3 stars isn’t that impressive and if you read the actual review you’d see that Sandy listed quite a few problems.
      So if I were Sandy and I was paid I’d cash that check pretty quickly because the studio is going to want their money back.

  9. @Rob +1

  10. your claim*

  11. nevermind the your claim* lol

  12. Ugh? Sensitive much? All for defending your team/family (whatever exaggerated relationship you consider you all to have), but to pretend that everyone there is somehow “immune” to the temptations of receiving payment for showing favoritism to a certain film is just as insulting as you claim the insinuation itself is? The last time I checked this site has something like 4 million hits a month?!?!?! Sorry, but that makes you anything BUT insignificant, and therefore a prime target of anyone in the business of promoting a film and/or game? That “holier than thou” attitude might slide if you were just some small little spec of a site, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

    • I imagine most of the money Screen Rant may make from ad space goes into paying for servers, site space, security to keep things running smoothly.

      Studios may want to pay Screen Rant to hype their movies but reputable sites won’t accept the cash and since SR is a reputable site….

      • As the website grows with popularity SR will be able to expand their operations to generate revenue in other ways. SR should just keep doing what they are doing, it’s great so far. I personally don’t mind SR receiving money from Studios as long as the reviews don’t become biased. Also SR should just remember that a none sponsored article or review deserves just as much right to exist and be of the same quality as one that is.

  13. Wow who are these people that have zero sense of humor in the world?

    • Zero sense of humour or a sense of humour that allows them to laugh at funny things while remaining silent at parts that they don’t find funny?

      I imagine the latter is more accurate than your silly assumption that people who don’t share your sense of humour have none at all.

  14. The Heat got 64% on Rotten Tomatoes, and 60% on Metacritic.

    Sandy’s 3 star review is right in line with that.

    It’s a goofball comedy that hits, and misses sometimes too. It pokes fun at the buddy-cop genre and then still tries to be serious on an emotional level about partner relationships and family. Schizophrenic in tone, it didn’t work sometimes…….. But I was amused. I didn’t feel like I’d wasted my money or got ripped off. I knew what it was going to be. Predictable, light comedy.

    We mostly went to this movie to get out of the heat and sit in an air-conditioned theater after lunch. I never expected to defend this movie, but the vitriolic attacks on Sandy and Screen Rant have given me cause to type way more than I should have about The Heat.

    Hasta La Vista!

  15. This movie had me in tears from laughter at a couple parts. No, the plot was not developed and the story line was not the beat, but I really think the humor made up for that. I enjoyed it, and as “Heustis” said above me, I didn’t feel like it was a waste of my time or money.

  16. I swear this movie had me busting out in laughter the first 2 minutes into it till the very end, and this comment is from a person who never finds anything to laugh at till now

  17. Watch The Nines. While the story itself is a little whack I believe it shows McCarthy has more talent then just slapstick.

  18. the B word… Bananas?

  19. 40 million opening. Not bad. I’m shocked, but it’ll be hard to tell whether people came out to see this because of Bullock (more likely) or if they’re “fans” of MM’s arguably raunchy brand of comedy. Good to see MOS is still in 5th place though, already made more $ domestically than Star Trek, and FF. not bad. Only trumped by Iron Turd 3.

  20. Looks good! I love Sandra Bullock!

  21. Well…I guess Gravity will end up being the first Sandra Bullock movie I’ve seen since Speed. Her work since that movie has been pretty terrible, hasn’t it? In fact, I’d say the best thing she’s done since Speed released was divorcing Jesse James.

    • Now that was funny.
      Harsh, but funny.

      I’m gonna pass on gravity.
      Nothing really has me worked up for the rest of the year.

      Not the Lone Ranger, not pacific rum

      I’ll see Elysium, sure, and maybe the hobbit part 2, but what else is really out there ?? Thor maybe…
      I guess.

      Iron Dud 3, Star Trek into the rehashed past, and the wonderful Man of Steel were pretty much it for me as far as 2013 goes

  22. I saw this over the weekend and thought it wasn’t bad. Is it the best comedy out there? No, but it wasn’t as bad as people say it is. With comedies though it is all based on taste. Anchorman a lot of people loved it but also a lot of people thought it was the dumbest movie ever made. Some sites gave the movie a 4 star rating and others gave it a 2. It’s all based on taste.

    • That’s exactly why I don’t go to a critic unless there’s a movie I think might be ok but not sure about and the critic reviews it positively or negatively.

      For example, The Last Exorcism Part 2 released in June and while I loved the first, I wasn’t all that enamoured with the sequel so I went to see a Mark Kermode review and he described it as “terrible movie, great ending” so I passed because I trust him when it comes to horror since he’s earned a Doctorate in that genre’s study and released books and documentaries about horror movies.

      With comedy though, I avoid all reviews because what I find funny, others find weird or dumb (example, I love Harry Hill, Bill Bailey and Ross Noble as comedians but others watch and wonder what’s so funny about them).

  23. saw it on Tuesday, 3 stars seems like a good little number to give it, very sold movie and really funny which I was genuinely not expecting.

  24. I took off with a friend for a girl’s day out. We had a great day out and thought we would finish off with watching ‘The Heat’. Both of us were very disappointed with this movie. If you can tolerate the constant barrage of bad language every thirty seconds you might enjoy this movie but we didn’t. The crudeness and the language overshadowed everything and is really unnecessary to that extent.

  25. This has to be one of the most sexist films I’ve seen in a very long time.

    • +1
      Very much agree.

  26. Who needs female Luarel&Hardy movie???? How in the hell do they get the money to make such a #@%&* movie