What It’s About
Women are funny, and thank goodness for Paul Feig’s affinity for writing for women.
He has made not just the funniest film of the year so far, but an instant classic. With its thoroughly entertaining comedic take on espionage thrillers, “Spy” should appeal to a wide audience.
Feig, who found his muse in Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids” and “The Heat,” has created the fearless comic actress’s best role to date. With his clever writing and deft direction, Feig has showcased McCarthy’s next-door-neighbor appeal as Susan Cooper, a smart CIA analyst stuck behind a basement desk.
When her suave James Bond-like agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law) is compromised, she volunteers to go undercover to nab an arms dealer shopping a nuclear bomb. She is sent to Europe, with a funny alias, and is immediately in jeopardy. She is hot on the trail of menacing Rayna (Rose Byrne), who is carrying on her Bulgarian father’s terrorist plot. That doesn’t set well with macho CIA operative Rick Ford (Jason Statham), who shadows her.
Susan’s mettle is tested in the danger zone, but she is out to prove she can keep up with the other highly skilled spies. Wackiness ensues in sight gags, slapstick, and hilarious put-downs and rants, all seamlessly part of an engaging story with nifty plot twists that keep us guessing.
The nimble supporting cast is aces, too.
McCarthy is back in rare form, after last summer’s “Tammy” misfire, and she is all in, displaying quick wit, remarkable verbal dexterity, and gung-ho enthusiasm for physical comedy. She will do anything for a laugh, and has us giggling and guffawing throughout.
Jude Law has fun as the very confident and debonair agent, while action star Jason Statham steals every scene he’s in as a brawny blowhard. It’s amusing to see him give a comic jolt to his intensity.
Rose Byrne (“Neighbors”) is convincing as an evil woman, and they have made her appearance part of the jokes, too. Miranda Hart excels as Susan’s pal and co-worker Nancy, a nervous gawky Nellie — she and McCarthy are an appealing duo. Allison Janney is the stern, humorless CIA boss, delivering an agile performance.
The jokes fly fast and furious, as does the action, to keep us engrossed. Feig, who created the TV show “Freaks and Geeks” that launched the careers of James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel and Linda Cardellini, specializes in universal human behavior humor. And “Spy” is a bull’s-eye in that regard.
The running gags on Susan’s schlubby new identities are ingenious. The entire film snaps, crackles and pops in imaginative ways.
What Doesn’t Work
Everything rings true, which is hard to do when it comes to terrorist thriller plots on a global scale.
Now, a word of caution on the language. It’s bawdy, and rated R primarily for all the curse words. You are warned.
4 stars out of 5
Director: Paul Feig
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Jason Statham, Allison Janney, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale
Rated: R for language throughout, violence, and some sexual content including brief graphic nudity