SPY (2015)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 2 hours

MPAA Rating: R for Language throughout, Violence, and some Sexual Content including brief Graphic Nudity

Spy poster

Directed by: Paul Feig

Written by: Paul Feig

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Jude Law, Rose Byrne, Miranda Hart & Bobby Cannavale

I know that a lot of people who love Melissa McCarthy, but I’m not what you’d call a fan. I thought THE HEAT was overrated, IDENTITY THIEF was mediocre, and last year’s TAMMY was downright insufferable. It seemed like McCarthy had given up a promising comedic career just to be typecast as an overweight buffoon in every film from BRIDESMAIDS on out. The trailer for SPY looked like yet another in a long line of these predictable, cheap, easy comedies. How very wrong I was. With a rock solid script, great performances and moments that will keep you laughing long after you’ve left the theater, SPY is absolutely hysterical. I’m more than a little pleasantly surprised by how much I actually enjoyed this film. I’m totally delighted and consider it be the funniest comedy that we’ve received in 2015 so far.

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Susan Cooper joined the CIA envisioning an exciting career, only to find herself spending a decade behind a desk and guiding active agents through their missions. She’s vicariously living the life of a spy through a computer screen and an earpiece. When her favorite agent’s latest assignment goes horribly wrong and a villainess (with access to a suitcase nuke) reveals that she knows the identities of every active CIA member, Susan becomes an unlikely agent in the field. Though her initial mission was to simply observe and report, things soon get complicated and Susan finds herself getting more action than she ever expected or was prepared for. Hilarity ensues.

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The first thing to mention right off the bat is the stellar cast. Though Melissa McCarthy may be hit-or-miss depending on the movie, she’s in top form as Susan Cooper. Aside from a few passing comments, I don’t think I can point out many specific fat jokes in this film and I cannot tell you how refreshing that is after we’ve seen a four film streak of that one-note shtick. McCarthy turns her usual fowl-mouthed protagonist into an actual fleshed-out heroine. Jude Law is enjoyable as Agent Fine and plays the character up as a sort of naïve James Bond type. Rose Byrne, who’s proven herself to be comically gifted in stuff like NEIGHBORS, plays the villainess with a snarky attitude. The way that she and McCarthy bounce off each other in scenes create some of the best moments in the whole film. It’s also worth mentioning that Peter Serafinowicz is a highlight as an overly seductive field agent aiding Cooper in her adventure.

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Even with all these big names, the real scene-stealer is Jason Statham. Known for being a modern action hero (and occasionally starring British crime flicks), Statham plays against type and knocks every one of his jokes out of the park. I burst into laugher whenever Statham was on the screen. Aside from good performances and great comedic timing, SPY has a surprisingly solid script. It’s so well written that this film could have easily been a quality straight-forward action thriller. The screenplay just happens to inject a ton of jokes and a hilarious sense of humor. There are lines in this film that I’m sure I’ll still be quoting for the rest of the week, but those comedic sensibilities don’t detract from the good story being told. There are enough plot twists and turns, though a couple can be called way in advance, to keep you interested in this movie for reasons other than the laughs. I’d compare SPY’s screenplay to HOT FUZZ in that it’s a well constructed story that also happens to be a hugely entertaining comedy.

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I’m not necessarily a big Melissa McCarthy fan, but I loved the hell out of SPY. If you like the NAKED GUN trilogy or HOT FUZZ, you are pretty much guaranteed to have a good time with this film. Jason Statham’s against-type character is worth the price of admission alone. It’s really a nice thing to see a comedy on the big screen that could work equally as well if it were a straight-forward serious flick. SPY is the biggest surprise of 2015 thus far. Highly recommended!

Grade: A

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