‘Spy’: From McCarthy with laughs
By Bob Bloom
From its James Bond-like opening to its gag-filled end credits, “Spy” is a wild spoof of spy and action thrillers.
At the center of the film is Melissa McCarthy as Susan Cooper, a desk-chained CIA agent who works support for her hero, secret agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law).
When a mission goes fatally wrong and the agency is compromised, Cooper is thrown into the field to help track the whereabouts of a nuclear device that is in the process of being sold to a terrorist.
“Spy” offers all the ingredients of the genre — the disguises, the deadly devices, the swanky casino where the bad guys gather, the witty exchanges of dialogue and the chases.
But they all are given a humorous twist, usually capped by a wry or
flummoxed observation from Cooper.
Smartly, writer-director Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids,” “The Heat”) does not make McCarthy do all the heavy lifting. He surrounds her with a wonderful ensemble, headed by Rose Byrne as the sinister, spoiled and foul-mouthed Raina Boyanov; Jason Statham as hot-headed, not-so-secret agent Rick Ford; and Miranda Hart as Cooper’s friend and co-worker, Nancy.
Like the earlier “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” “Spy” sprinkles its laughs with some rather violent sequences. The scenes are not as disconcerting as in “Kingsman” because they are not so over-the-top.
McCarthy plays it straight, realizing the laughs are in the situations and her reactions to them. She is no buffoon; when action is warranted, she is as capable as any of her male counterparts.
The film easily blends bullets and insults as McCarthy and Byrne continually snipe and verbally and profanely assault each other.
Yet, the comedy does not overshadow the mission. As the laughs fly, the plot is continually propelled forward with twists and surprises worthy of an 007 or Jason Bourne feature.
“Spy” somewhat surprises: You take it for granted that since it stars McCarthy, her character may be somewhat inept or, more charitably, out of her depth. But she reveals herself as a resourceful, courageous, quick-thinking and — at times — deadly agent.
The movie may be a tad too long and one plot surprise is not totally unexpected, but those are minor quibbles.
This is a genre in which such comedians as Bob Hope and Danny Kaye would elicit laughs by acting the coward or buffoon before somehow coming out on top in the last reel.
McCarthy’s Cooper does not need to use such antics. At times, Cooper is unsure and doubtful of her abilities, but then she rebounds and grabs the situation by the hair — or groin — and wins the day.
“Spy” will have you laughing and cheering. It is smart and funny — a deft combination that will have you anticipating the inevitable sequel.
Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and The Film Yap (filmyap.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom. Other reviews by Bloom can be found at Rottentomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.
(R), language, graphic violence, brief nudity, sexual content
3½ stars out of 4