Can a Paul Feig + Melissa McCarthy team-up result in anything other than raucous belly laughs and fun? Survey says: NOPE! SPY, the director/actor duo’s third film together, is another comedic feat in the vein of BRIDESMAIDS and THE HEAT. And I’m expecting the upcoming GHOSTBUSTERS film, also starring McCarthy and her BRIDESMAIDS co-star Kristen Wiig (as well as SNL’s Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones), to be another much-lauded addition.
But while this movie is as funny as hell (I laughed out loud so much my stomach hurt), it also doubles as a genuine spy film. In fact, it’s less a parody of Bond films, and more a love letter to them. So much so, I was pleasantly surprised that the action scenes and overall plot are taken seriously, though of course there are a few comedic elements and hilarious, quotable dialogue sprinkled between. And, unlike the typical spy films that have a male character running the show, SPY makes McCarthy the heroine.
After her partner, field agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law), is killed in action, CIA operations officer, Susan Cooper (McCarthy), volunteers to go into the field and bring his killer to justice. Fine’s killer is none other than notorious baddie Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne), who is trying to sell a tactical nuclear weapon to a deep-pocketed terrorist organization. Because Rayna acquired the identities of every CIA field agent, the under-the-radar Cooper is taken off of desk duty and sent into the field to gather intel. But while she is given strict instructions to stay in her ridiculous disguise (a Mid-Western Mary Kay saleswoman) and “track and report only”, that mission goes out the window the second she encounters Boyanov in person.
Using tradecraft and the help of her best friend/colleague Nancy (Miranda Hart), Cooper quickly ingratiates herself with Boyanov and becomes a close confidant. But as the heat starts picking up in the illegal arms deal, and a self-aggrandizing agent (Jason Statham) gets in the way, Cooper starts getting in over her head. But since she is the Agency’s last line of defense against a nuclear bomb getting into the wrong hands, Cooper has to ignore her mother’s advice to give up on her dreams, and prove that well-behaved women SELDOM make history (inside joke once you’ve seen the movie).
SPY is a film that you can tell was a blast to make. From Jason Statham’s surprisingly hilarious performance, to Miranda Hart’s brilliant introduction to American cinemas, there are no weak links in this cast. Not to mention, I could watch Melissa McCarthy and Rose Byrne, with her pretentious, straight-(wo)man airs and larger than life hair, insult each other for a complete three movie franchise. Their back-and-forths were easily the funniest moments in the film and contain insults that I will be quoting for years to come.
If there are any negatives to point out about SPY, I didn’t notice. I guess I was too busy laughing my butt off.
My Review: A