June 15, 2015

Movie Monday: Spy

Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy had both been in the business for years when Bridesmaids (2011) made them household names.  Now they're back together for their third movie, following The HeatSpy stars McCarthy as Susan Cooper, a CIA employee who keeps Agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law) in running shape while watching his back.  When a criminal uncovers the identities of all the top agents, Susan is the only one qualified to stop her.

Spy is a fine vehicle for all of McCarthy's talents.  She plays sweet and vulnerable as well as inventively foul mouthed.  She's also surrounded by a great cast to play off of.  Jason Statham, as Agent Rick Ford, gives increasingly surreal and delightful monologues.  British comedienne Miranda Hart gets a meaty role as Susan's best friend and fellow CIA analyst.  (There could be an entire movie about their office, which appears to be infested by all manner of creatures.)  You might know Hart from gifs on Tumblr.

Practically stealing the show is Rose Byrne (also in Bridesmaids) as prospective arms dealer Rayna Boyanov.  Her hair is ridiculous, she can't shoot a gun, and yet she still manages to continually thwart the CIA.  Rayna and Susan don't like each other when they meet, but they end up playing surprisingly well together.  McCarthy and Byrne trade the most ridiculous insults while remaining in character, which is quite the feat.

Spy is a send-up of spy thrillers, of course, but you don't have to be familiar with the genre to enjoy this one.  The shape of the genre does help Feig stay in line; his movies can get a little shaggy.  But most of the time the story is an excuse for a game cast to trade some crazy lines.  Not all of the jokes land.  Some are incredibly lame and others are too gross for me.  But enough are absolutely hilarious enough to cover the clunkers.  The terrific ending also helps lift the movie as a whole.

I was worried about whether I'd enjoy Spy because the outfits McCarthy dons in the trailer look pretty dire.  But the joke is really how badly those frumpy cat-lady disguises suit Susan.  The jokes don't come at the expense of McCarthy's size.  She's a capable woman and a desirable one, even when she dresses like a flautist in a wedding band.  (Just see the movie.)

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