Director Paul Feig reinvigorates the buddy cop genre by pairing Oscar-winner Sandra Bullock and breakout star Melissa McCarthy as law enforcers with wildly different styles in “The Heat.”
Set in Boston, the movie follows Sarah Ashburn (Bullock), a rigid FBI agent forced to team up with Shannon Mullins (McCarthy), a brash undercover Boston street cop to track a ruthless drug lord. Ashburn is a straight-laced, patient, methodical investigator known for her excellence, while Mullins is very short fused and none has ever had a partner or a long time friend. This wildly dysfunctional duo must try to catch this high-powered criminal without killing one another in the process.
Director Feig enthused on Bullock’s and McCarthy’s pairing, “I’m excited about doing a female buddy cop comedy because I can only think of a couple that have come along in the last 20 years and I don’t think they were particularly great. To me, though, I’m not looking at it as two women – it’s just two of the funniest people I know. Melissa, who I’ve worked with and is hilarious, and then Sandy who I’ve always been a fan of who is also hilarious. What I like is they have two different senses of humor and two different styles of comedy and the two complement each other.”
In a genre mostly dominated by men, Feig shares that the pairing is an ideal mix. “Sometimes you come up with these combos in your head and then you put them together and they don’t work at all. But we had a little rehearsal down in Atlanta when Melissa was doing another movie, and the minute they started reading together, I thought, “Okay, this is funny.”Now they’re actuallythe best of friends and onscreen the chemistry between them is great because of this, and they both bring aspects of themselves to each of their characters – they balance each other out great. Sandy’s so funny at playing the uptight nerdy-but-officious person and then Melissa’s character is just all street smarts and brawn and force. I set them loose and then just get to sit behind the monitor and laugh – I’m amazed at what they’re discovering and coming up with,” Feig continues.
Directing the raucous comedy that is “The Heat” has its unwritten rules too according to Feig. “My criteria for comedy is it has to have an emotional core, first and foremost. It also has to have believable characters, even if they’re doing big crazy things or they’re big personalities. It’s not necessarily about jokes – it’s the behavioral aspect of it, and the way they’re reacting off each other. Jokes sometimes land like lead because they just sound very written, but a funny reaction to something makes it funnier. With the Internet and YouTube we’re seeing so much real live comedy just in these videos of people with their friends – that is funnier to us than a very overwritten story. So we have our great script, and although we don’t deviate from it too much, we try to do it in a way where the actorsmake it their own and they’re talking like people do to each other in real life,” shares Feig.
“The Heat” opens June 27 in cinemas nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.