Synopsis: Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is an unassuming, deskbound CIA analyst, and the unsung hero behind the Agency’s most dangerous missions. But when her partner (Jude Law) falls off the grid and another top agent (Jason Statham) is compromised, she volunteers to go deep undercover to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer, and prevent a global disaster.
Release Date: June 5, 2015 MPAA Rating: PG-13
While many spoofs and parodies try to poke fun at the individual elements of a particular genre, the Melissa McCarthy led Spy takes a broader approach. It’s without question a send-up of the classic spy movies of old, only with a somewhat ill-equipped lead named Susan Cooper (McCarthy from The Heat), but the story and humor work on their own as well. Audiences will be laughing but they will also be intrigued, and that in itself is a sign of a worthwhile spy comedy.
On the surface, Spy‘s narrative is fairly formulaic and overwrought with its fair share of double crosses and mustache-twirling villains. However, it’s the injection of absurd situations and characters that flips the entire concept on its head. For example, Susan Cooper’s liaison while trailing the villainous Rayna Boyanov (Neighbors‘ Rose Byrne) is an aloof European agent named Aldo (Peter Serafinowicz) whose obsession with Cooper’s body oftentimes conflicts with the mission. Seemingly out of nowhere Aldo will reach for Cooper’s breast, catching the character completely off-guard and generating a big laugh.
It’s that type of comedic subversion that makes Spy such a surprise to watch, as few situations play out as expected. In some cases, the bait and switch is in service of trying something new for the spy genre narratively, while for others it’s in an effort to get a laugh. And sometimes it’s both. Smart writing is one thing, but writer/director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat) has found a way to make a spy movie that’s engaging, and then he’s slipped a spy comedy underneath its veneer.
The one drawback to Spy is that it heavily relies on its brand of humor as a major through line. So, if there are any viewers who don’t find the kind of left-field comedy that McCarthy is known for amusing, then it might be best to leave Spy for a rental. For that matter, the cast may have a lot of audience favorites, but it’s truly McCarthy who runs the show. In other words, if her films have never been your cup of tea then Spy isn’t going to change your mind. But if the opposite is true, then you’ll drink up every ad-libbed quip as if it was a well-shaken martini.
Spy is without a doubt one of the must-see comedies of summer; it transcends the type of lazy, humor-reliant scriptwriting that permeates the season. It’s smart all on its own, but there are so many wonderfully absurd touches peppered throughout as well. Dull moments are few and far between in the film and each member of the cast is perfectly suited for both a spy adventure and an off-kilter comedy. Sure, Melissa McCarthy is still doing her Melissa McCarthy thing, but for a lot of audience members that’s Spy‘s biggest draw. Spoofs can often go real bad real quick, but Spy is more than just your average James Bond parody.
First and foremost, it’s important to mention that if Melissa McCarthy is not your brand of comedienne, then avoid Spy at all costs. Yet again, director Paul Feig has let his leading lady shine (or rust?) in dozens of hilarious, yet unbelievably self-deprecating ways. However, rather than go for the obvious jokes, Spy plays up McCarthy’s character’s lack of style – her “frumpiness,” if you will – against these extremely suave super spies and femme fatales. Her Susan Cooper is, in essence, the anti-James Bond, and it works so well for McCarthy. Needless to say, if films like The Heat and Bridesmaids had you rolling with laughter, Spy will too.
But not just because of McCarthy, though, the supporting cast is equally strong, and filled with many high profile actors playing against type. Miranda Hart is a real gem as Susan’s co-worker Nancy. Allison Janney is pitch perfect as the no nonsense CIA handler. And Rose Byrne is appropriately bitchy, but in the best way possible. However, the real standout of the film is Jason Statham, whose Rick Ford character combines the bravado of Rambo with the aloofness of Closeau. He’s the type of action hero who, in another movie, is played by Jason Statham, but in Spy his character is also a parody of Jason Statham. He really steals the show.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Paul Feig
- Screenwriter(s): Paul Feig
- Cast: Melissa McCarthy (Susan Cooper)Jude Law (Bradley Fine)Raad Rawi (Tihimir Boyanov) Jessica Chaffin (Sharon)Miranda Hart (Nancy B. Artingstall)Rose Byrne (Rayna Boyanov)Jason Statham (Rick Ford)
- Cinematographer: Robert D. Yeoman
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Theodore Shapiro
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA