Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock are the superego and the id of tomboy spunk.
Bullock’s breakout role was, of course, in Speed (1994), about a booby-trapped Los Angeles bus that had to be kept at 50 miles per hour or else it would explode. Bullock was so winning that no one laughed the premise out of the theater. What followed was more tomboys, like Miss Congeniality (2000), and topped by mama-grizzly tomboy in her Oscar-winning The Blind Side (2009). Bullock remains fetchingly fit for her age (she’ll be 49 next month).
McCarthy, of course, is not fit. She is unhinged tomboy, a female Harpo Marx whose heft only hints at her appetites. Unlike Harpo, she talks, profanely and non-stop. Her breakout role was in Bridesmaids (2011).
The pitch meeting for the two actresses’ joint vehicle, The Heat, must have been easy: Miss Congeniality meets Bridesmaids meets Lethal Weapon. Add in Paul Feig, the director of Bridesmaids, and you’ve got a green light.
And the package works, hilariously. Bullock and McCarthy play a by-the-book FBI agent and a ferocious street cop (guess which one is which) in pursuit of a drug lord. The movie sends up nearly every movie-cop cliché (including holding a suspect by the ankles over a balcony). Since it’s rated R, the language amps up to David Mamet. McCarthy goes for broke with what sound like improvisations. Printable example: “Fourteen dollars for a whiskey? Is it magic? Does it come in Jesus’ shoe?”
The audience I saw it with had a great time (so did I). But two quibbles: A minor character dies unnecessarily in an explosion and there’s a blood-spurting (amateur) tracheotomy. Not funny.