The best lines in the R-rated action-comedy "The Heat" aren't printable in this family newspaper. Actually, make that all the lines. Which is a shame, because it's going to be tough to convey just how terrifically funny this movie is.
"The Heat," a buddy-cop film starring Sandra Bullock as uptight FBI agent Sarah Ashburn and Melissa McCarthy as slovenly Boston cop Shannon Mullins, is the rare throwaway comedy that somehow gets everything right. It's also a case of a genuine talent -- McCarthy, hence those unprintable lines -- really coming into her own. She's been on the rise ever since her raunchy turn in "Bridesmaids," but with "The Heat" (both directed by Paul Feig) McCarthy is now officially a star.
Mullins is the kind of character McCarthy has been honing for a while -- loud, crass, no class, all heart -- and here she plays it to perfection. Bullock, no comedic slouch herself, is endearing as Ashburn, a goody-goody with more merit awards than friends. But once McCarthy appears (busting a john, chasing a drug dealer, emasculating her boss) the film kicks into overdrive.
The script, from debut writer Katie Dippold, may be skimpy -- the two women overcome mutual loathing to catch a drug lord -- but it's a sturdy skeleton for the real meat, which is our heroines' budding friendship. "The Heat," like "Bridesmaids," is a female twist on a typically male genre (the obvious touchstone is "Lethal Weapon"), and it's great fun to watch these women strike back at the men, be they criminals or colleagues. (Marlon Wayans, as a fellow Fed, is the film's obligatory cutie.)
McCarthy owns this movie, but nearly everyone in it is hilarious. Not just the secondary characters (Jane Curtin plays Mullins' hostile mom), but the walk-on parts, the extras, even the animals (one running gag involves an abject failure of a police dog). Credit goes to Feig, who barely wastes a millisecond without going for a laugh.
The result is a giddy, anarchic comedy that could become a populist classic like "Silver Streak," "Beverly Hills Cop" or "Foul Play" (explicitly referred to twice here). Stay for the credits -- even those are funny.
PLOT An uptight FBI agent and a rowdy Boston cop team up to catch a drug lord.
RATING R (violence, language, drug use)
CAST Melissa McCarthy, Sandra Bullock
BOTTOM LINE An unexpectedly terrific buddy-cop comedy, with McCarthy at her rudest, crudest and funniest yet.
BULLY FOR BULLOCK AT THE BOX OFFICE
Sandra Bullock's "Heat" has a very good chance of muscling its way onto this list of her highest-grossing movies:
1. The Blind Side (2009) -- $264,408,500
2. Speed (1994) -- $230,313,500
3. A Time to Kill (1996) -- $195,385,100
4. The Proposal (2009) -- $174,475,900
5. Miss Congeniality (2000) -- $151,744,400
6. While You Were Sleeping (1995) -- $147,952,400
7. Two Weeks Notice (2002) -- $124,297,400
Source: Boxofficemojo.com (Prices adjusted for ticket-price inflation.)