Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy team up once again! This time tackling the spy genre. Spy definitely exceeds expectations, rising above a typical spoof to deliver crazy action sequences, vivid characters, and laugh-out-loud moments. It’s a raunchy, raucous Get Smart, except Melissa McCarthy’s Susan Cooper is already pretty competent and totally kickass... just, thus far, overlooked.
Melissa Every Way You Could Want Her
Spy’s greatest asset is its star, Melissa McCarthy, who gets to explore tons of great material. We get to see her as an intelligent, sweet sidekick with potential and then she assumes many covers, mostly humiliating ones. She’s a frumpy, sad-sack cat lady, simple Midwesterner, and, most delightfully, a badass bodyguard who hurls absolutely searing insults with aplomb. Basically, we get to see a Melissa McCarthy highlight reel, featuring all her wonderful sides, from the rough and tumble cop of The Heat, to the awkwardly brash sister-of-the-groom in Bridesmaids, to even shades of her sweet and sassy Gilmore Girls character.
Unlike some of her previous roles, though, she’s not just a completely ridiculous character straight out of an SNL skit. In Spy, she gets to be the straight man, comic fodder, and the hero.
Spy also succeeds in managing to balance poking fun at Melissa McCarthy’s Susan Cooper without resorting to making her the butt of lazy jokes based around her appearance. Refreshingly, most of the characters are ripped apart by insults, so it doesn’t feel like we’re laughing just at Susan’s expense alone. In fact, most of the time jokes are aimed at the character of Susan and it's sort of funny that all these idiots around her focus on something so irrelevant as her appearance when she’s actually an awesome agent. Which parallels a great social issue in a light and focused way.
Shaken, Not Stirred
Spy has fun lovingly parodying action movies, none as much as the quintessential spy franchise, Bond. The whole premise of the movie is basically about what if the perpetually overlooked Girl Friday Miss Moneypenny stepped into the action herself. The movie is littered with references to the characteristics Bond films are famous for — many exotic locations (including a swanky casino scene), glamorous villains and eccentric allies, even bestowing the film with a title song and sequence that’s so classically Bond to boot. It also features the fluctuating loyalties and surprise twists that any good spy flick should.
Actually Great Action
For a comedy that’s mainly spoofing it, the film has some really inspired action sequences. There's some surprisingly graphic violence and fight scenes that are really creatively choreographed. It's hard to find a movie today that really shocks you in a fight scene, never mind a comedy movie doing so, and doing it oh-so well.
Spy is filled with hilarious supporting roles — Rose Byrne’s cold, aristocratic hot-mess, and fabulous Miranda Hart as Susan’s friend and co-worker, and Peter Serafinowicz’s lustful, Italian ally Aldo, just to name a few. But the best has to be Jason Statham, flexing surprisingly strong comedic muscles while playing essentially a parody of himself in all of his more serious roles. His totally over-the-top, brusque, Cockney Rick Ford's recitations of past heroics is an absolute highlight.