It begins with a sneeze
Film-going audiences have been exposed to the cloak and dagger world of espionage ever since the Golden Age of Hollywood, so it only makes sense that a satirical film would come along to lampoon such intense material and allow audiences to laugh just as much as they gasp when going to the movies. Academy Award nominee Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids, “Mike and Molly”) stars in the newest film spoof, Spy, an entertaining comedy sharing a few good laughs at the expense of extreme movie assassins. McCarthy established herself well as a household name in regards to her comedy exploits on film and television, respectively; and she continues her string of successes with her most recent starring effort—a funny, crude studio comedy that drones on in some patches.
McCarthy again trusts Paul Feig to direct her after the two previously collaborated on Bridesmaids and The Heat. Much like The Heat, Spy dips into the well of crude humor to a near dependency. Fortunately, other gags on typical spy rhythms surface naturally, as well. For example, the entire plot begins on an ill-timed sneeze as a spy has a gun pointed at a person. The film also plays on exciting chase sequences, adding a hilarious twist to each on-screen pursuit. Feig makes no mistake about the basis of his newest film, opening the movie with a sexy title sequence straight out of a James Bond adventure.
McCarthy nails her part—keeping in rhythms of characters she’s recently played in the past. She stars as Susan Cooper, an overlooked desk agent at the CIA with a deep crush on a suave, deadly field agent, Bradley Fine, played by fellow Oscar nominee Jude Law (Black Sea, Side Effects). Much like Identity Thief, Tammy, and St. Vincent, McCarthy’s character goes unappreciated and unnoticed by most people in her vicinity. She feeds well off her dramatic costars: Law, Jason Statham, and Rose Byrne to create hysterical sequences of espionage parody delight. Unfortunately, she only has chemistry with one other comedic actress, Miranda Hart, because the star’s scenes with fellow comedic actors Peter Sarafinowicz, Allison Janney, and Bobby Cannavale slow the pace.
Indeed, the dramatic actors serve as the movie’s highlight with Jason Statham (Transporter and Expendables franchises) standing out among them. Many forget Statham has a background in comedy, beginning his acting career in Guy Ritchie-directed action-comedies Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch., and Revolver. However, it’s the actor’s impressive improvisation that shines through with Statham’s character, Rick Ford, constantly detailing his intense, gruesome exploits as a spy. Rose Byrne (Insidious, X:Men: First Class) takes a villainous turn for Feig like she did in Bridesmaids, but with a murderous twist. Byrne plays a Bulgarian national with information for sale and Cooper must protect and defend her to preserve the knowledge.
Despite a longer run time for a studio comedy, Spy proves itself a worthy satire with a solid lead performance from Melissa McCarthy and break-out comedic genius of Jason Statham. McCarthy leans a bit much on crude humor as she tended to do in The Heat, Bridesmaids, and Tammy but never lets a joke fall flat. The director/ actress team continues their journey as kindred collaborators, so expect major studios such as Universal and 20th Century Fox to continue investing in a successful formula. Spy Hard this is not.