Funny ladies packing 'Heat:' Not your typical buddy cop movie

Story highlights

  • After redefining the wedding movie with "Bridesmaids," director Paul Feig is back with "The Heat," a female buddy cop comedy
  • Melissa McCarthy reunites with Feig
  • Feig calls statements that women aren't funny "ridiculous"
  • Next up, Feig is working on a "female James Bond" movie

Once upon a time, anytime you sat down to watch a wedding movie, you had a good idea what you were going to get, whether it be "Father of the Bride" or "Four Weddings and a Funeral."

All of that changed with the surprise box office success of "Bridesmaids," a raucous, raunchy comedy that launched Kristen Wiig (and co-star Melissa McCarthy) into Hollywood's stratosphere.

Fresh off the success of "Identity Thief" earlier this year, McCarthy is back again as an unconventional, unpredictable, anything-but-by-the-book police officer in "The Heat," which reunites her with "Bridesmaids" director Paul Feig. The film, in theaters on Friday, co-stars Sandra Bullock (who has done her own wedding movie, "The Proposal"), and the two of them are an extremely rare thing to see on the big screen: two female cops.

Over the years, we've seen any number of "buddy cop" movies (see the gallery above), but they've almost exclusively been about two men ("Training Day" is even referenced by name in the movie). Once again, Feig and McCarthy are tweaking an established movie genre.

CNN recently spoke with Feig about the new movie, and what genre he hopes to tackle next.

CNN: What attracted you to the script?

Feig: I wanted to do a follow-up to "Bridesmaids" in the same tone that allowed me to do the same style of comedy I wanted to do, and I wanted to work with funny women again. This thing just showed up at my house one day, a script was sent to me. It was called "The Untitled Female Buddy Cop Comedy." That's about as perfect as it gets! I'd always wanted to do action comedy. It just felt like the perfect mesh of the kind of movie I wanted to do, and getting to do it with funny women. I was reading it on a plane, laughing the whole time. I heard that Sandra Bullock was interested in one of the roles, which was exciting. I'd always wanted to work with her. The minute I started to read it, it was obvious the other role was so perfect for Melissa. It came together fast -- eight weeks after I read the script, we were shooting the movie.

Women bringing 'The Heat' this summer
Women bringing 'The Heat' this summer


    Women bringing 'The Heat' this summer


Women bringing 'The Heat' this summer 02:19
Critic calls Melissa McCarthy 'hippo'
Critic calls Melissa McCarthy 'hippo'


    Critic calls Melissa McCarthy 'hippo'


Critic calls Melissa McCarthy 'hippo' 02:04

Box office battle: 'The Heat' vs. 'White House Down'

CNN: So you had Melissa in mind right away?

Feig: We tried to figure out something to do together after "Bridesmaids." I was really bummed when she got hired on "Identity Thief." I was sad because I wanted to make a movie with her that summer. Two weeks after she left to make "Identity Thief," that script came in. I went into overdrive and called her people -- I had to make it happen. We actually jammed all her stuff with Sandra into a five or six week period, before she had to return to "Mike and Molly." Then we shot Sandra's solo stuff. Melissa had to fly back and forth the last three weeks to shoot with us. She was absolutely exhausted at the end, but you can't tell on screen. She just nailed it.

CNN: How did Sandra fit into that dynamic on set?

Feig: First of all, she's a great comedy fan and a talented actress -- having won an Oscar and all that. She hadn't done a lot of improv, and we like to play loose on our set. She got into it pretty quickly. In rehearsal and improv sessions with her and Melissa, we got to see her instincts for playing the character, and adjust the script so she slipped pretty easily into that character.

This was like doing an exhibition match between two of the world's greatest tennis players, thinking: 'Wow, they don't miss,' wondering how long this can go on. I just sat on the set, saying: 'Wow, this is cool,' and got out of their way.

CNN: You've done the teen show (Feig created the cult series "Freaks and Geeks") and the wedding movie, and now you have the buddy cop movie. Have you always tried to tweak established genres?

Feig: I like familiar genres -- storytelling is really all about execution. I'm not a guy who's like, 'I want to come up with this amazing thing that no one's ever seen.' I like the comfort of a familiar story because then you can play within it and surprise people with the way you do it.

CNN: What did you see in previous buddy cop films that you wanted to play with here?

Feig: Katie (Dippold, the screenwriter) was originally inspired by movies like "Running Scared," where these guys riding around with hot girls on the back of their mopeds -- thinking: 'That's not fair, why can't women have that kind of life?' At the same time, she wrote it from a woman's perspective. What I like is how germane it is to two women at a workplace. What we didn't want was a movie with two guys and saying: 'Let's put two women in here.' We didn't want women acting like guys. What drew me to this was two ultra-professional women who were good at their jobs and loved their jobs, and because of that, they haven't compromised in any other area of their life. So they need a friend -- I like stories about smart, professional women. My wife has at times struggled to find a true best female friend. The idea of trying to find a perfect friend is a pretty universal idea.

Review: 'The Heat'

CNN: Every so often, someone (most recently, Jerry Lewis) will make a statement that women cannot or should not do comedy. What do you say to that?

Feig: It's the most ridiculous statement you can make in the world, about that. It's obviously made by people who don't hang out with funny women. All I've known in my life are women who make me laugh. Women very often make me laugh more than men. Women's comedy isn't as aggressive as a comedy of men -- which can be a lot of insults, put-downs and verbal punching of each other. That stuff's very funny -- "This is the End" is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen, I love that stuff. But it's just not where my skill set is -- I'm much more feminine in my comedic likes and dislikes. I had a lot of bullies growing up, and I was always running to my female friends and thinking let's just make each other laugh and ignore those guys

CNN: There was a recent controversy about a UK poster for the movie, which apparently Photoshopped Melissa McCarthy's image. Any thoughts on that?

Feig: I have very little to do with the marketing and even less to do with the international marketing. It's a drag because I love Melissa the way she is, so that's the only way I ever want to see her.

CNN: Will "Freaks and Geeks" or "Bridesmaids" fans see any familiar faces in "The Heat?"

Feig: Tom Wilson, who played "Coach Fredricks" will pop up in the film and he's so great. "Stove," the air marshal has a small cameo, which made me very happy. I really tried to stack this with people I've worked with. Zach Woods from "The Office" is there, and Tony Hale from "Arrested Development" has a very funny scene at the beginning.

CNN: What's next for you?

Feig: I wrote this female spy comedy, sort of a female James Bond thing that I'm putting together right now. I'm just trying to figure out who our cast is. I'm hoping that's the next thing I do, but I'm also developing more things. I've got a deal with Fox developing movies for them which is really exciting. Hopefully most of it will be with strong female leads because I love working with the funny ladies. I'll try to keep that up as much as I can.