‘The Heat’ captures McCarthy’s wild lightning in a so-so bottle

Contributed
Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in ‘The Heat.’ Rated R, 117 min. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., 2013.

“The Heat” pairs Sandra Bullock, as a prickly FBI agent, with Melissa McCarthy, as a Boston police officer who plays by her own rules. The “Odd Couple”-like formula offers some electric fun when the two clash, and you can tell the pair really clicked while filming.

Director Paul Feig also helmed “Bridesmaids,” which featured McCarthy’s breakthrough role. Here, she goes from supporting player to undeniable star, and totally commits to the outrageous physical comedy that no other actress is doing. Bullock is more of the “straight man” here, but even she gets to cut loose a little and tweak her image.

The sometimes intense, graphic violence is played for laughs, so it becomes hard to take it seriously when the characters are actually supposed to be in peril.

The movie suffers from its predictability, and from the last-minute turn toward the sentimental that seems to redeem every nearly-crazy character that McCarthy portrays. It’s as if she turns into a different person in the end, while the average story tries to suggest that the insulting brute has been a good person all along. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but at least it will make you laugh.

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