MOVIES

Dumb and Dumber

Two women don't make a right in this clichéd, badly written buddy movie

Boston detective Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy, left) and FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) hit all the buddy-movie clichés in “The Heat,” directed by Paul Feig.
Twentieth Century Fox
“The Heat”
Twentieth Century Fox
Boston detective Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy, left) and FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) hit all the buddy-movie clichés in “The Heat,” directed by Paul Feig.
Twentieth Century Fox
“The Heat”
Twentieth Century Fox
DF-08661_R2 - FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) explains and displays the magic properties of Spanx to her new partner, Boston Detective Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy), in THE HEAT.
Twentieth Century Fox
FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock, left) and Boston detective Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) experience an unexpected setback in “The Heat,” directed by Paul Feig.
Twentieth Century Fox
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Starring: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Michael Rapaport, Jane Curtin, Marlon Wayans, Dan Bakkedahl

Directed by: Paul Feig

Stars: 1 1/2 out of 4

Rating: R

Despite "Cagney and Lacey" paving the way on TV in the 1980s for future female crime-fighting partners, few have appeared in the theaters.

"Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous" (2005): One of the few redeeming parts of this underwhelming sequel is that Sandra Bullock, who returns to her role as FBI agent Gracie Hart, is teamed with aggressive female FBI partner Sam Fuller (Regina King). Sound familiar?

"Feds" (1988): Rebecca DeMornay and Mary Gross star as a pair of mismatched FBI trainees who overcome enormous odds to become agents.

"Charlie's Angels" (2000), "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" (2003): They're not technically buddy-genre movies, since the angels all get along and aren't fighting internally while also battling the bad guys, but these are two examples where female crime-fighting heroes aren't either flying solo or teamed with a guy.

About the best thing you can say about the buddy cop film "The Heat" is that whatever Sandra Bullock does, she throws herself into it.

Unfortunately, this time she threw herself into a film that was more of a nice idea than an actual movie, with a script that's barely more developed than a comedy sketch.

Buddy cop films are a tried-and-true genre: Take two people from different backgrounds and create a situation where they are forced to work together.

In this case, they are Bullock's officious FBI agent Sarah Ashburn and Melissa McCarthy's foul-mouthed Boston street cop Shannon Mullins.

The so-called original premise of the movie is that it's a buddy cop film with two women instead of the usual two men, a man-woman team or a man and his dog, a device that Hollywood has actually used more than the two-women duo. Unfortunately, that was the last semi-original thought that went into making "The Heat."

First, there are all of the clichés: One cop (Bullock) is the even-tempered rules-follower, the other is the wild rules-breaker. One is on her own turf (McCarthy), while the other is a fish out of water, working in an unfamiliar city. They have an initial meeting in which they instantly dislike each other on general principle. They upset a lot of people with their reckless abandon, and when they make a mistake, they get thrown off the case but decide to see it through anyway on their own. They get drunk and bond.

Then there's the plot, which involves their pursuit of unseen drug lord Larkin, a mysterious figure they can only reach by working their way up the drug supply chain. But the plot is largely nonsensical and really just serves as a device to make the two leads fight and throw caustic barbs at each other. The other actors, such as Michael Rapaport as Mullins' brother, Jane Curtin as her mom, and Marlon Wayans as FBI Agent Levy, are in throw-away roles that exist only to move the plot along or to give the leads excuses to snipe at each other. The lone exception is Dan Bakkedahl, who gives the film a few amusing moments with his portrayal of albino DEA agent Craig.

Then there's the dialogue. Hollywood seems to think that if you can cast McCarthy as an obnoxious woman who says nasty, mean-spirited things and does physical comedy that makes fun of her weight, then your movie will be hit. Unfortunately, that line of thought may be correct if the success of the awful "Identity Thief" is any indication. Therefore, McCarthy's Mullins rarely utters a complete sentence without at least one vulgarity or profanity in it.

Like Bullock, McCarthy throws herself into this lousy material. The few laughs that are generated by "The Heat" come largely from the two leads being committed to making this lame script work.

If you like lowbrow comedy where people hurl insults at each other without being particularly clever, then "The Heat" is for you. What clever lines do exist are in the movie's promos, so you don't need to see the film to catch those.

Bullock and McCarthy both have such strong followings that "The Heat" is likely to draw crowds despite being so poorly written and directed. That could help pave the way for production of the already-announced "The Heat 2," which can only benefit from having the bar set so low by the original.

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