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The Heat's Rap Sheet: Funny but Endlessly Profane

  • Christa Banister Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2013 6 Jun
  • COMMENTS
<i>The Heat</i>'s Rap Sheet: Funny but Endlessly Profane

DVD Release Date: October 15, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: June 28, 2013
Rating: R (pervasive language, strong crude content and some violence)
Genre: Action/Crime
Run Time: 117 min.
Director: Paul Feig
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Marlon Wayans, Michael Rapaport, Michael McDonald, Jane Curtin, Demiån Bichir

When measured against the buddy cop genre’s upper echelon, namely Beverly Hills Cop, Lethal Weapon and the more recent Will Ferrell-Mark Wahlberg vehicle The Other Guys, there's really nothing all that unique about The Heat's actual plot.

But what differentiates The Heat from its peers is that men take a backseat in fighting crime. Yes, in the same way that Bridesmaids (also directed by Paul Feig) proved women are just as funny, crazy, and crass as anyone starring in The Hangover, The Heat is no softer or sanitary just because it happens to star America’s sweetheart, the Academy Award-winning Leigh Anne Tuohy mimic Sandra Bullock.

As Sarah Ashburn, Bullock basically plays the Rodney Dangerfield of FBI agents. While she's managed to crack a few high-profile cases, her slavishly by-the-book approach, uptight demeanor and poor taste in pantsuits have made her the butt of her fellow agents' jokes. Her personal life isn't much better in the respect department, as she's often so lonely that she snuggles with her neighbor's cat (one of the film's better low-key laughs). The only glimmer of light in Sarah's lackluster existence is the possibility of a promotion at work.

While Sarah should be a shoo-in given her respectable credentials, her (sexist) boss isn't quite convinced she’s the one for the job. But if she can successfully bring down a dangerous drug lord in Boston? Well, the job is hers. Trouble is, there’s a local Beantown law enforcer already on the case—and she isn't planning on sharing the spotlight any time soon.

Enter Shannon Mullins, played by the perpetually scene-stealing Melissa McCarthy (Identity Thief), as the requisite loose cannon. While Ashburn is always the picture of professional decorum, Mullins is anything but. Sloppy, foul-mouthed and severely lacking in social graces (to wit: she offers a two-week-old sandwich to houseguests, and her idea of clean clothes simply involves turning your favorite t-shirt inside out), it's no surprise that Mullins marches to her own beat on the job, too.

Ashburn's first clue that working with Mullins might be challenging comes during a routine interrogation. While Sarah stays calm and prefers the Myers-Briggs personality test to gain valuable psychological intel, Mullins prefers beating the suspect with a phone book. Needless to say, that's only the beginning of how their differences will play out as they get closer to whomever is responsible for the rash of drug-related offenses.

With winks and nudges to countless buddy cop movie clichés, Bullock and McCarthy are clearly having a good time cutting loose in The Heat. Given the film’s decidedly fast and loose style, it's clear that McCarthy was given full license to improvise, and she uses every inch of her body, not to mention her quick wit, for laughs. Inevitably, some jokes work better than others (a shameless gag about shooting guys in the genitals gets old rather quickly), but the laughs are consistent and abundant. Unfortunately, so are the f-bombs and misuses of God's name.

Ever hear a word so often that it practically loses its shock value? That's exactly what happens in The Heat, and it's unfortunate to say the least. The considerable good will that Bullock and McCarthy generate as comediennes goes out the window when nearly every other word is an expletive. It’s not that you expect these characters to abide by a Christian moral code, but the absence of good taste in how McCarthy's character speaks is still appalling... and unnecessary.

It's undoubtedly progress when women are starring in comedies that don't involve playing the girlfriend or attending a lavish wedding by the time the credits roll. It's even more noteworthy that The Heat’s leading ladies are the age (Bullock and McCarthy are both in their 40s) where women are commonly classified as "too old" by Hollywood standards, so kudos to the filmmakers for that.

But for all those steps forward, one still can’t help hoping the laughs could be a little classier in the future. After all, the actors themselves, not to mention the audience, deserve better.

CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers):

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Social drinking, sometimes to excess. Illegal drugs, particularly cocaine, figure prominently into the plot.
  • Language/Profanity: Just shy of 200 f-bombs, plus equally enthusiastic use of God's name paired with da--. Other profanities, including he--, bit--, da--, motherfu---- and sh--, are scattered throughout. At first, Bullock's character stops short of spouting off an expletive (just "f" for fu-- or "motherf" for motherfu----), but by the end she starts sounding a little like her new partner.
  • Religion: One of the film's running jokes involves a series of odd paintings where Jesus is winning various sporting events.
  • Sex/Nudity: Crude references/jokes involving male/female genitalia and on one occasion, oral sex. A married man/father of five is arrested while trying to solicit a prostitute. Mullins calls the man's wife who isn’t the least bit surprised by the news because he's done it before. The typically buttoned-up Ashburn unsuccessfully tries to seduce a perp in a club. Some discussion of Mullins' previous sexual exploits and Ashburn's lack thereof.
  • Violence: A character is stabbed in the leg several times with a knife typically used for shucking oysters. A couple of people are shot in the head. When a man is choking in a Denny's, Ashburn tries to perform an emergency tracheotomy with disastrous results (blood is spurting everywhere). Mullins repeatedly threatens men by waving her gun near their genitals. Ashburn ends up shooting a man in that very spot.

Christa Banister is an author and full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the MeddlersBased in Dallas, Texas, she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog.

Publication date: June 28, 2013