It's a case of smug cop / mad cop when by-the-book FBI agent Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) is forced to team up with Melissa McCarthy's Boston street cop Mullins, a foul-mouthed firecracker who shoots first and asks questions later... if she bothers to ask questions at all. It's a partnership made in law enforcement hell, but the lethal ladies must put their differences aside if they're going to take down a mysterious druglord. Bridesmaids director Paul Feig lets McCarthy loose once again in an action comedy that grabs the buddy cop genre by the b... scruff of the neck.
Sandra Bullock inverts her Miss Congeniality persona as Special Agent Sarah Ashburn, the most observant, intuitive, and insufferable know-all in the FBI's New York office.
Despatched to Boston to take down a drug cartel run by a faceless kingpin, Ashburn finds herself lumbered with the worst possible partner in Detective Shannon Mullins (McCarthy), an eff-bombing loose cannon straight outta the "gonna tear you a new one" school of police work.
Ashburn's fancy psychological techniques don't wash with Mullins. In fact, Mullins don't wash much at all. But she does have an awesome armoury in her kitchen and had enough integrity to send her own addict brother (Michael Rapaport) to prison.
This obviously makes her a pariah to the rest of her lowlife clan. So what with her family problems and Ashburn's confidence issues (of course her aloofness is all a front), there's plenty of potential for sisterly bonding.
Et voila, off we go for various genre-approved rounds of night clubbing, perp dangling, binge drinking, authority flouting, screw-ups, put-downs and stand-offs. Plus enough vagina jokes to fill an elephant's knickers.
The good news is that most of these scenes contain a giggle. The bad news is that Feig doesn't know when to say "cut", allowing a film already labouring under a dull plot to get further bogged down by weak slapstick and faltering improvisation.
What comes as a bigger shock is the violence, the fun punctuated - and even prompted - by headshots, stabbings and a particularly gory scene involving a choking diner.
That the ladies get to play tough and take centre stage is the whole point. The downside is that the few male characters who aren't idiots, sexists and/or jerks barely register.
So while it's nice to see Back To The Future bully Tom 'Biff' Wilson back on the big screen as Mullins' beleaguered boss, neither he, Rapaport nor Marlon Wayans' FBI nice guy get much chance to shine.
And since it's all about equality, there's one more thing. How come Mullins gets to make endless fun of an albino rival while her most obvious physical trait is never mentioned?
That's The Heat in a nutshell: good for a few chalk-and-cheese chuckles but no real belly laughs.