Star Melissa McCarthy and director Paul Feig strike again with “Spy”. The movie marks the team’s third collaboration together but not their last (McCarthy is part of the cast of Feig’s all-female “Ghostbusters” reboot).
Feig made a name for himself in television, directing episodes of “Weeds”, “Mad Men”, “The Office”, “Nurse Jackie” and “Parks and Recreation”. He broke out in features in 2011 with “Bridesmaids”, which arguably made McCarthy the star she has become because she stole every scene she was in (and earned an Academy Award nomination for her performance). They followed “Bridesmaids” up with “The Heat”, which found McCarthy paired with Sandra Bullock in an odd-couple buddy cop comedy formula. It was another successful outing for McCarthy and Feig.
McCarthy was hilarious in “Bridesmaids” and had great comedic patter sharing the screen with Bullock in “The Heat” but what is so great about “Spy” is that she doesn’t have to steal scenes or be paired with anyone. “Spy” is McCarthy’s film from top-to-bottom and everyone around her knows it and they sit back and watch her run with the material. This is the first time McCarthy truly feels like the headliner of a film and she has earned it.
McCarthy stars as Susan Cooper. She is a CIA analyst, working in a basement providing support for the field agents. Mostly, she assists Bradley Fine (Jude Law), making sure he knows which way to turn and who to shoot. They have a playful rapport but Fine is completely unaware that Susan is in love with him after spending all these years in his ear (they communicate through ear piece and a contact lens that has a camera, which Fine wears when out in the field).
When things take a dramatic turn and CIA identities are revealed, the unknown Susan volunteers to go out in the field. Of course, no one takes her offer seriously but CIA director Elaine Crocker (Allison Janney) approves for her to leave her desk. The brash agent, Rick Ford (Jason Statham), takes it upon himself to try and accomplish the mission himself because he has very little faith in Susan.
“Bridesmaids” alum Rose Byrne co-stars as Rayna, an icy villainess, who has a nuke that just about everyone wants to get their hands on. McCarthy and Byrne’s chemistry is dynamite in their scenes together. Susan is resourceful and down-to-earth, where Rayna can’t leave a room without an entourage behind her. The clashing personalities and scathing exchanges between the two actresses make for some of the funniest moments in “Spy”.
The whole cast is great, from Statham’s hotheaded Rick Ford to Law’s cool, slick Bond-esque Bradley Fine. “Spy” is at its best when McCarthy is front and center, which is the majority of the film. She has great chemistry with everyone in the cast but can hold a scene on her own.
“Spy” doesn’t reinvent any wheels but it’s a very funny wheel, nonetheless. The premise of the movie is typical fish out of water material but it is all so entertaining. The movie clocks in at two hours and feels a bit lengthy at times. Even when snippets could have been trimmed and tightened, the next scene will have you laughing hysterically and you’ll forget all about it.
There has been a bit of chatter about Feig’s female-centric comedies and if he is trying to make a statement about women in comedy. I don’t really think that is his intention here or with any of his movies. He just happens to have found a muse in McCarthy and the two continue to strike gold.
“Spy” rates 8 out of 10