Critics Love Melissa McCarthy, But Are Otherwise Split on ‘The Heat’

By

Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock’s buddy comedy The Heat opens in theaters today, and the reviews are somewhat mixed. Most critics agree that the film is very funny, but even those who like it say the plot feels formulaic and a bit messy. And while McCarthy’s foul-mouth Boston cop won almost everyone over, some critics saw Bullock’s uptight federal agent as too similar to her previous roles, most obviously in Miss Congeniality. The film earned a just-fresh rating of 63% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a Metacritic score of 59/100.

A fair number of reviews seem to focus on the novelty of a movie starring female cops (The New York Times subhead simply reads “The Heat Is a Buddy Movie Without Any Guys”), and comparisons to the other Paul Feig-directed lady comedy Bridesmaids abound. But there is a lot of love for the McCarthy-Bullock pairing, a sign that could mean that the film’s already ordered sequel may still emerge. If what you’re looking for is a tightly-woven narrative, The Heat may not work for you; if you’re interested in a profanity-packed comedy with Melissa McCarthy at her finest, this’ll do very well. After the jump, a few representative quotes:

Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times: The Heat is in the same league as the first Lethal Weapon and the first 48 HRS as a cop-buddy movie that delivers bountiful laughs, terrific action and a couple of authentically earned dramatic moments in an R-rated, semi-plausible setting.

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post: It revolves around the retrograde novelty of watching women swagger, spout vulgarities, brandish guns and toss around references to their vaginas (not to mention the odd areola and cervix).

Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times: At times The Heat gets messy, and the comedy is not always pitch perfect. But they’re cops. They’re enemies. They’re friends. They’re opposites. It’s funny.

Claudia Puig, USA Today: McCarthy brings her envelope-pushing improvisational talents to the role of a freewheeling loudmouth beat cop. Put her with Bullock, who can nimbly play an uptight, klutzy FBI agent, and the result is goofy hysterics. Though McCarthy gets more outright laughs, the movie wouldn’t work without Bullock as her straight woman. It’s all about timing and chemistry, which they have in spades.

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: Grotesque doesn’t begin to describe Ms. McCarthy’s new character. Scarily insane comes closer; repulsive occasionally applies. […] One wonders, though, what the future holds for Ms. McCarthy’s career if every new film is going to exploit her more shamelessly than the previous one. Beware the long arm of the law of diminishing returns.

Peter Debruge, Variety: Breaking it down, The Heat has been engineered to deliver the laughs, and the result certainly does, despite coming alarmingly near to botching the procedural elements along the way. The bumpy car chases, police interrogations and heavy-artillery standoffs work only insofar as Feig can rely on humor to steal the scene.

Ty Burr, Boston Globe: If you’re going to make a dopey, foul-mouthed, predictable lady-buddy-cop movie, you might as well make it funny. And until it overstays its welcome in the final half hour, The Heat is shamefully funny.