Film Review: Spy

With Spy, Melissa McCarthy has delivered possibly her finest performance to date in a film that is a fantastic send up of the spy genre while also being a pretty good straight up spy movie.

McCarthy plays the assistant, Susan Cooper, of one of the CIA’s top spies, Bradley Fine, and while he is competent enough it is clear that Cooper is what really makes Fine special. When tragedy strikes the agency and the cover of all of their field agent’s is blown, Cooper is recruited to go out on the field to patrol their target, but not supposed to engage. Since this would be a boring movie if we were watching McCarthy follow around Rose Byrne for two hours, McCarthy ends up in the thick of it, thanks to the appearance of a rogue super agent Rick Ford, played by the great Jason Statham.

Director Paul Feig and McCarthy have now made three films together, and while I’m not ready to put Spy above Bridesmaids, Spy is the clearly the best showcase of McCarthy’s acting chops. She gets to show us everything in her arsenal and Feig is happy to facilitate. McCarthy even gets to poke a bit of fun at her public persona as being a bumbling idiot. She can be great at playing that idiot part, but contrasting it against her classy and commanding side, and knowing that it is all an act, we can tolerate it easier. Plus, Feig and McCarthy do a fine job of keeping her from going into “over the top” mode.

Spy is also worth checking out because it is not only a good spy movie, but a great send up of the genre. For every great comedy set piece there is also a fun action beat. The gags centered around McCarthy’s secret identities and spy gadgets are all functional, yet given hilarious covers. The film even serves as a great origin story for McCarthy’s climb to be one of the agency’s top spies without ever missing an opportunity to throw in a laugh. The world of Spy is one that I would gladly go back to for sequel after sequel, ala James Bond or Jason Bourne. Why didn’t they name Susan Cooper Joan Boorman or something, she could have sat right next to the best of the JB spies.

Beyond the fun Feig is having with the genre and McCarthy is having with her persona, the supporting cast is also littered with great work. Jason Statham is hilarious in a self-parody of his macho action persona, he steals every scene he’s in. I can’t wait to see his line-o-rama on the Blu-ray. Jude Law is also an effective spoof of the Bond type as Fine, he gets possibly the best bit of the movie too when a sneeze throws off his game, to say the least. Rose Byrne is great (isn’t she always) as she skillfully walks the line of being a great villain, but is a hilarious comic force all at the same time. We also would be remiss to leave out Peter Serafinowicz, who might be the funniest character in the film. He gets to be absurd and have a blast as an agent McCarthy has to collaborate with in the field.

Spy is a great comedy, a great spy movie and has great performances from Melissa McCarthy and her cast. That sounds like three great reasons to check out Spy if you ask me.

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