Paul Feig made waves in 2011 with the huge R-rated summer comedy 'Bridesmaids.' The concept was perfect: a crude and rude comedy featuring female characters. Having women act out the lewd acts that men typically perform on screen upped the comedy. In addition, the female cast was full of hilarious women giving side-splitting performances that were just as good – if not better – than most of the typical males cast in these roles. When I learned that Feig's latest film, 'The Heat,' was going to apply this same female-centric model to the "buddy cop" genre, I was excited. I thought, 'If he can do it just as well as 'Bridesmaids,' then it will be brilliant.' Unfortunately, lacking a worthy story and great amount of editing, 'The Heat' is just okay - a shell of what 'Bridesmaids' was.
Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy play the movie's lead duo. Bullock plays an uptight, by-the-books, smug, proud, and bitchy FBI agent. By watching the way that she physically carries herself and treats others, it's no surprise that she's friendless. McCarthy plays a short and stalky, rough-around-the-edges, "bad cop" for Boston PD. Trying to prove herself worthy of a major promotion, Bullock takes on a difficult and dangerous case – bringing down Boston's most heinous never-before-seen drug lord. This premise seems easy enough to carry a character-driven comedy, but it's actually flimsily strung together. More emphasis is placed on creating comedic scenarios than making the movie flow naturally. Much like just about every 'Saturday Night Live' sketch, scenes play out way too long. Occasionally, even the funny bits are dragged out to the point that they're not funny anymore. Very few comedies should push the two-hour mark.
The problem with 'The Heat' isn't with the actors. We've seen Bullock appear in plenty of romantic comedies and chick flicks, but we've never seen her do R-rated comedy. Much to my surprise, she's great at it. Her comedic timing is impeccable. I didn't find her award-winning performance in 'The Blind Side' to be anything special – and especially not Oscar-worthy – but taking into account her performances in both 'Gravity' and 'The Heat,' she's really breaking her stereotypes and showing her strengths in diversity. And although McCarthy is repeatedly being cast as the same character in every movie, we know that she has potential to make that character very entertaining. (Watch 'Identity Thief' to see her make that character not entertaining.) While her character in 'The Heat' has some very funny moments, just like the overall editing of the film, I found a big chunk of her dialogue and scenes to be too long. All too often, a great one-line joke is stretched into five or six sentences that remove the initial humor. It's as if Feig and his editor found everything she said to be hilarious, like they couldn't put her takes under the knife in the editing bay. With her character being a vulgar and crass loud-mouth, a little goes a long way. The amount that she's used results in character overkill. Her sarcastic one-note bitterness gets old very fast. Luckily she has Bullock to bounce things off of; otherwise we'd end up with another 'Identity Thief.' Had that been the case, then Bullock would have been the same wasted casting decision that Jason Bateman was in 'Identity Thief.'
But despite the picture's editing flaws, Bullock and McCarthy are great together. They're like the female version of the Chris Farley and David Spade duo. The lame story can't carry 'The Heat,' but it's this partnership that keeps the movie afloat. Other jokes – many of which are completely random and unfunny bits (like the "tracheotomy" scene) – don't always work, but Bullock and McCarthy are great together. Sadly, Feig doesn't always choose the best takes for the shots in the final cut. For example, the shot shown in the trailers and TV spots that feature Bullock shattering a glass in her hand is much better, and quite different, from the one used in the final cut. Bullock's reaction is much more comedic in the adverts than she is in the take used in the film.
I wanted to love 'The Heat.' I've enjoyed the actors in many of their recent roles. I laughed harder at the director's smash hit 'Bridesmaids' than many other comedies from the recent past. All of the ingredients for an equally hilarious comedy are present for 'The Heat,' but it sorely misfires and fails to reach its potential. I laughed a lot, but the movie itself left me yearning for more. After grossing $228 million worldwide, a sequel is in the works – but let's hope that a little more effort is put into making 'The Heat 2' a much more worthy comedy.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Fox has given 'The Heat' a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy/Ultraviolet combo pack. The Region A BD-50 Blu-ray contains both the theatrical cut and the unrated extended cut (which is unnoticeably three minutes longer), while the DVD, Digital Copy and Ultraviolet versions only present the theatrical cut. The two-disc Elite keepcase slides vertically into a glossy cardboard slipcase. All of the pre-menu content – a Fox vanity reel, a Blu-ray commercial and trailer for 'The Internship' and 'The Way Way Back' – can be skipped through in order to get to the gangster-inspired annoying rap-filled animated main menu.
'The Heat' has been given a decent 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode that's clean, colorful and crisp, but not as sharp or detailed as we've become accustomed to. Fine details are occasionally visible – especially when it comes to Bullock's tight hair and McCarthy's rogue locks – but there aren't many other fine details to gawk at. Textures don't jump out as much as they should. When it comes to these minute details, 'The Heat' is definitely lacking. The amount of detail that it carries may have been great a few years ago, but higher qualities have become more prominent, so these lesser qualities aren't impressive.
With several scenes taking place in bars, clubs and other neon- and brightly-lit locations, there are plenty of instances of rich colorization. Fleshtones are nice. Contrasts are typically natural, although a few of the film's nighttime sequences are a tad on the dark side. The lit sections of those frames are perfectly clear and visible, but the shadows are consuming. Black levels are nice and deep.
When it comes to noise, aliasing or banding, 'The Heat' is flawless.
'The Heat' features a nice 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, as well as a bajillion 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks – Spanish, French, Portuguese, Hungarian, Czech, Polish, Turkish and Thai – and five 2.0 commentary tracks. The lossless Master Audio track is much like the video – not entirely amazing, but good enough.
The movie's soundtrack is definitely the most involved aspect of this audio mix. Like it or not, the film is almost entirely set to rap songs by female performers (aside from a few disco funk tracks). These songs are the loudest and most dynamically mixed part of the lossless 5.1 track. When used to bridge two scenes, the music comes out of nowhere and suddenly brings the space to life. Compared to the effects and vocals, the music is noticeably louder. The vocal mixing is very front-heavy, which causes some bits of dialogue to be trumped by the music. I wouldn't say the dialogue is completely lost, just hard-to-hear over the music.
Audio effects are strong when they need to be. What do I mean by that? The environmental effects aren't prominent, but the action scenes are very well mixed. Screeching tires, gunshots and explosions are dynamically spread throughout the channels. These effects also warrant some pretty nice imaging. When the on-screen action calls for it, the effects step up.
All of the many special features included on the Blu-ray are HD exclusives.
I enjoy a good comedic genre flick. We're had plenty of them in this same buddy cop vein in the recent past - 'Hot Fuzz,' 'The Other Guys,' etc – and this one is slightly better than average. It's better than 'The Other Guys,' but nowhere near as great as 'Hot Fuzz.' 'The Heat's screenplay is far from great and/or original, but Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy bring the laughs through great chemistry. McCarthy has the tendency to wear her bits out, but Bullock's comedic timing is fantastic, something I didn't realize that she had in her. The Blu-ray's video and audio qualities are good, but could be better. The video doesn't have the highly detailed quality that we've become accustomed to and the mild audio track is lessened by a too-loud music mix. If you're wanting special features, then you've come to the right place. There are five commentary(ish) tracks and more than 90 minutes of outtakes, alternate/extended/deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes featurettes. 'The Heat' has been given a fantastic Blu-ray release. It's a bummer that the movie itself couldn't be as strong as this disc. I discourage blind-buying the Blu-ray and recommend watching the movie before bringing 'The Heat' home.