Director: Paul Feig
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Rose Byrne and Jude Law
Running Time: 120 minutes
Release Date: June 5th
While she’s certainly received and deserved a lot of praise for her natural comedienne talents, Melissa McCarthy doesn’t really have the CV to back it up. She stole most of the scenes from Bridesmaids, but elsewhere she’s been teamed up with the likes of Sandra Bullock, Jason Bateman and Susan Sarandon, for the sliding scale of quality that was The Heat, Identity Thief and Tammy. Nobody you know actually seems to watch Mike & Molly, and the less said about her cameos in This Is 40 and The Hangover Part III, the better. Spy represents her first proper leading lady role, but it’s only when she’s paired up with another fantastically funny actress does the film really take off.
McCarthy plays the assistant to CIA operative Jude Law, always in his ear, directing him to safety from explosions and bad-guys, all from the safety of her cubicle in Langley. When his cover is blown by big bad guy and nuclear bomb owning Rose Byrne, the CIA need to send someone in that the bad guys don’t know about, which results in McCarthy jaunting all over Europe is search of Byrne. Also in tow is Jason Statham, another CIA agent who is super annoyed the mission wasn’t given to him, and goes rogue to prove his worth.
Written and directed by Paul Feig – who previously worked with McCarthy on Bridesmaids and The Heat, and will reunite again on Ghostbusters III – there is something incredibly safe about Spy, despite the surprisingly high violence quota. Everything from that title to the obviousness of the jokes (McCarthy thinks she’s going to be given a sexy new identity, but is given the world’s worst make-under, or McCarthy crushing hard on Law’s suave spy and him having no idea of her intentions, for example) to some of the more random asides (the CIA has a bat-infestation problem, or a long scene involving 50 Cent and Miranda Hart that goes nowhere), and there’s a fear that Spy will be added to the forgettable junk-pile with Will Ferrell’s Semi-Pro or Tina Fey’s Date Night.
But then, FINALLY, McCarthy is given a protracted scene with Byrne in a casino, and the entire film magically comes to life. Their immensely funny back-and-forth is truly hilarious, and from that point on, Spy is saved. This, coupled with Statham’s surprising knack for comedy (“The woman I loved was thrown from a plane, and hit by another plane on the way down!” he explains when asked why he’s such a hard-ass), makes it the best movie McCarthy has done since Bridesmaids. That’s faint praise, sure, and it’s still not the movie to match her talents, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.