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Categories: Movies

After her breakout role in Bridesmaids , Melissa McCarthy solidifies her leap from ensemble player to co-starring lead in The Heat, a new cop comedy that matches her up with Sandra Bullock (and also reunites her with Bridesmaids director Paul Feig). The story finds uptight FBI agent Sarah Ashburn forced to partner with rude and crude Boston police detective Shannon Mullins to catch a murderous drug lord. While Ashburn is an aspiring cat lady who quashes her loneliness with arrogance and ambition, Mullins is the street smart officer who keeps her fridge stocked with ammo and rocket-propelled grenades. Complex characters they're not; luckily Bullock and McCarthy are pros at this sort of silliness.

As Mullins, McCarthy is clothed in a wall of vulgarity, saddled with a mullet-like hair-don't and a desexualizing wardrobe. Bullock is in familiar territory here playing the prim and proper agent who learns to let her Spanx down. Perhaps because we've seen this act from her before (Miss Congeniality 1 and 2), it's McCarthy who steals the show in The Heat. There's still something amusing watching her apple-cheeked Midwestern face spewing profanities that would make Richard Pryor blush.

It's a shame, however, that scribe Katie Dippold (a writer for TV's Parks and Rec) doesn't do much with the fact that both women have isolated themselves by intimidating their male work colleagues. Instead, The Heat makes time for the requisite, over-the-top, Bridesmaids-esque set piece: a queasy medical intervention at a diner, with Ashburn yelling "The blood, the blood!" as Mullins retches.

One might wonder about the street tough Mullins being so sensitive, but pondering consistency in this police comedy won't get you far. Where Bridesmaids was a natural setting for an emerging Delta Force of funny females, setting Feig's brand of character-based comedy in this context isn't as easy a fit. We're in buddy cop territory: light on the cop, heavy on the buddies. While we do get a few great bonding moments, like a crash course in dressing down at a local night club or a raging all-nighter at the local dive bar, The Heat also features a criminal waste of the great Jane Curtin. Still, the movie does confirm McCarthy as a comic who makes the most of her material.

Rating: 3 out of 5

The HeatSandra Bullock, left, and Melissa McCarthy star in buddy-cop comedy The Heat. (Gemma La Mana/20th Century Fox/Associated Press)

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