Blu-ray Review: The Heat

A gut-busting, two-woman show with more than enough laughs to hold up to repeated viewings.

By , Contributor
If the goal of director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) and writer Katie Dippold was to inject some fresh comedic energy into the moldy old “buddy cop” genre, they’ve succeeded with The Heat. Buoyed by the irresistibly hilarious Melissa McCarthy and the enduring star power of Sandra Bullock, the action comedy is quite possibly the most consistently funny mainstream movie so far this year. Though it eventually bogs down in perfunctory plot mechanics, The Heat is a quotable, re-watchable gut-buster now available on Blu-ray as an unrated cut (the theatrical version is included as well).

Not that the new cut adds much (about three minutes) to what was already a bawdy, foul-mouthed experience. Anyone easily offended would do well to steer clear, as even the theatrical cut of The Heat earns its R rating. The movie works so well due to the chemistry between its two stars. McCarthy dominates as Shannon Mullins, a Boston cop with a passionate desire to rid the streets of drug dealers. They roped in her brother Jason (Michael Rapaport), forcing her to throw her own flesh-and-blood in prison (much to the riotously over the top chagrin of her family). Shannon knew it was the only way to save her brother’s life.

Bullock turns is far subtler work as button-down FBI agent Sarah Ashburn. She’s so skilled at this point in her career, she’s able to simultaneously play the straight woman and a comic focal point, deftly alternating as needed. Confident enough to step back and let McCarthy steal most of the scenes, she knows just how to slip in a killer delivery of a line like, “That’s a misrepresentation of my vagina.” Hewing closely to genre conventions, Sarah and Shannon make an odd couple when paired to track down the local drug kingpin Larkin (whose true identity remains unknown until the very end).

Heat altercation (380x230).jpgBut it’s really not the plot that drives The Heat. Feig and Dippold aren’t out to reinvent the wheel. This isn’t a send-up like Hot Fuzz, but rather a traditional “buddy cop” flick that simply substitutes and women for men. As it rolls towards its action-oriented climax, the gears start to grind a little. It’s a minor complaint. Two hours proves to be a little too long, but frankly I couldn’t get enough of the interplay between Bullock and McCarthy. Marlon Wayans (as Sarah’s boss Levy) and Jane Curtin (as Shannon’s mom) are both sadly given very little to do, but supporting cast members Tony Hale, Jessica Chaffin, and Jamie Denbo all generate laughs.

No reason to carp about The Heat in high definition. The 1080p transfer looks every bit as sharp and detailed as any moderately budgeted 2013 film should. Robert Yeoman’s cinematography is as straightforward as any movie of this type. Minor weaknesses in the visual effects are revealed with the increased resolution, leaving a climactic explosion looking hokier than it was meant to. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix is characterized by a hefty bottom end, with the LFE channel really cranking out the bass lines of soundtrack tunes like the Isley Brothers’ “Fight the Power,” Deee-Lite’s “Groove is in the Heart,” and Parliament’s “Flashlight.” Even the most quietly muttered comedic asides are easily audible during the noisiest scenes.

Heat Bullock McCarthy in bathroom (380x253).jpgAn exhaustive amount of outtakes and deleted scenes are included. Unlike many gag reels, many of the various flubs and unused improvs here are quite funny. There are numerous outtakes montages here, most with a theme (“Mullins Family Fun,” “Police Brutality,” “Let’s Get Physical,” “Supporting Cast Cavalcade”). On top of all that are another 27 minutes of deleted, extended, and alternate scenes. If commentaries are your thing, get ready to invest some time. The unrated cut has a track by Paul Feig, while the theatrical version has one with Melissa McCarthy, Feig, Dippold, and more, another track featuring actors who portrayed the Mullins family, and lastly there’s one by the original lineup of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

There are so many great lines and gags in The Heat, it’s the rare comedy that I think will hold up well over frequent viewings. Definitely not one of those “the best parts were in the trailer” comedies (if anything the trailer was overly restrained by underselling the film’s boisterousness), this one is well worth owning. The combo pack includes the theatrical version on a standard DVD as well as digital and UltraViolet copies.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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