If you've never seen Sandra Bullock blow a peanut shell out of her nose, and you'd like to, The Heat is your movie. That's one of the highlights of this often dismal but occasionally inspired comedy from Paul Feig, director of Bridesmaids, which pits Bullock's hoity-toity FBI agent against a brassy Boston cop played by Melissa McCarthy. Too much of the movie is spent testing the boundaries of how loud and obnoxious McCarthy can be. Feig doesn't hand this able comic actress the gift of freedom; he simply gives her enough rope. But The Heat has a spark, irregularly ignited by the unlikely kinship between these two actresses. Bullock's Special Agent Ashburn and McCarthy's Detective Mullins both have an attitude problem: Ashburn comes off as a know-it-all who alienates the men in her department (even though she does know it all better than they do). And Mullins doesn't give a rat's butt for anyone else: Told her boss is looking for her, she snaps, "Tell him I’ll be there at sharply go-fuck-yourself o’clock." The movie attempts, feebly, to say something serious about the ways women are treated in the workplace. The suggestion is that both Ashburn and Mullins know exactly what they’re doing but don't get the respect (and, most likely, the salary) they deserve. But these two are hell to work with. At times, McCarthy and Bullock tease out the best in each other. Bullock cedes everything to McCarthy: She knows she can't make a bigger noise than her overbearing co-star, so she bobs and weaves between the lines instead. This is accord as chemistry, and it works.
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