Melissa McCarthy really has come into her own over these last few years, mostly thanks to the work she has done with director Paul Feig, including “Bridesmaids” and “The Heat.” McCarthy’s success has been largely dependent on her ability to play fairly similar roles – a hot-headed, loud-mouthed loner that wants to help others, but mostly ends up just hurting herself due to her awkwardness.
Under the direction of Feig, McCarthy has seen a lot of success. But, many have pointed out, myself included, that the comedy of this role from McCarthy has run its course and has become predictable. We saw this happen in films like “Identity Thief” and “Tammy” where she is clearly playing the same role as in “Bridesmaids,” but we just are not laughing.
Perhaps the reason for this is because Paul Feig was consistently putting her character in entirely new settings and letting McCarthy run rampant in this new world. Which is why their new collaboration, “Spy” is not only their funniest work together, but stands as Melissa McCarthy’s greatest comedic performance to date. Instead of a film about a loner who feels bad about herself yet doesn’t like most people, we get a film about a loner who stands up for herself and what she believes in, while also dishing out many verbal onslaughts that supply endless laughs.
Susan Cooper (McCarthy) works for the CIA as an analyst for one of their top spies, Bradley Fine (Jude Law). The two make a great team together, and both admit that they would be nothing without the other. But when one of Fine’s missions goes horribly wrong, he is killed and the only person who knows the location of a nuclear bomb goes into hiding. This woman, Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne), also knows about every top CIA agent, so now the CIA must send in a fresh face to gather intel. Cooper insists on taking the mission, much to the dismay of fellow agent Rick Ford (Jason Statham).
As I have mentioned in the past, I do not like to review comedies, since what makes someone laugh could make another person cringe. The success and failure of these films lies in the comedy and whether it made you laugh. That being said, I can honestly say that “Spy” is the funniest film that I have seen in years, as the jokes never stop and almost all of them hit the nail on the head.
From Bradley Fine’s ignorance to the fact that Cooper secretly loves him and only thinks that she is in love with her cats (even though she doesn’t own one), to Rayna’s inability to remember any of her henchmen’s names, “Spy” is never short on jokes.
One of the most consistently funny actors in the film is Jason Statham, which really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has seen “Crank.” Statham plays a tough as nails spy who thinks that he should be doing Cooper’s mission, as she might screw it up at any moment. To prove that he is more qualified, Statham goes into elaborate detail about all the horrific ordeals he had to endure, like having an arm torn off and having to re-attach it with his other arm. This scene goes on for what feels like five minutes, with Statham’s intensity always on display. I would not be surprised if he did not blink during that scene.
But the funniest part in the film is Melissa McCarthy. Part of this because it comes across like she was dumped into this world by accident, and she does not know how to handle any thing other than what she learned in action movies. She has her own ideas for what her code name would be, but is always disappointed to find out that the CIA has already given her a boring name with a depressing back story, to explain why a 40-year old woman would be traveling through Europe by herself.
This gets even better later when McCarthy is finally allowed to use her brand of insult comedy. During these scenes, she holds nothing back and lets her full fury loose on anyone in shouting range. This not only made my crack up, but made me smile as this comedy also fit for McCarthy’s character and all the rage she was holding in. Everything was building up inside of her and it was only a matter of time before she could let lose.
Clearly I was not the only one who found the comedy in “Spy” hilarious, as the audience I watched the film with was busting a gut as well.
There are so many varying forms of comedy to enjoy in “Spy” that it is hard not to get behind it. From insult comedy, to intense monologues, to slap stick action sequences, to hilarious uses of editing and perspective, to parodies of the spy and mystery genres. For crying out loud, the main spy is named Bradley Fine, has several chessy catch phrases and takes every opportunity to make sure that his hair looks good.
If I did have one complaint for “Spy,” it would be that the plot does get a bit stale near the end. It feels like there were one or two action sequences that got added on just give the film a bit more of a run time. There were a few scenes that could have been cut, even if that did take away some good jokes. In particular, any scene featuring 50-Cent, which felt incredibly tacked on.
Overall, “Spy” is the best work to come out of the Feig/McCarthy duo. This film plays to both of their strengths and gives us consistent laughs from start to finish. Nearly every character has a moment or two to shine, and it is nice to see the comedy flow naturally without ever feeling forced or unnatural. If you liked “Bridesmaids” or “The Heat,” then you’ll love “Spy.” Even if you didn’t, I would say this one is still worth checking out.
Final Grade: A-
Categories: Movie Reviews