**** 1/2 out of 5
Rated R for language throughout, violence, and some sexual content including brief graphic nudity
Article first published at The Reel Place.
It’s been a bumpy road for Melissa McCarthy since hitting it big time and stealing all of her scenes in Bridesmaids. After the likes of Identity Thief and Tammy, audiences were about ready to give up. But if anyone was going to make sure she lived up to expectations, it’s director Paul Feig. After supporting roles in This Is 40 and St. Vincent McCarthy and Feig scored another hit along with Sandra Bullock in The Heat. Now Feig has re-teamed with McCarthy for Spy, to give us not just one of the year’s funniest comedies, but also the funniest film either have made so far.
Spy throws us headfirst into the CIA with agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law) on the case in Bulgaria with his number one analyst in his ear, Susan Cooper (McCarthy), trying to locate Tihomir Boyanov (Raad Rawi), who is the only person who knows where a nuclear bomb is hidden. After Fine winds up shooting Boyanov, Fine is on the run, back to the U.S. New intel sends Fine after Boyanov’s daughter Rayna (Rose Byrne) who may know where the device is.
While checking into Rayna, she kills Fine, and now Susan is more than willing to step up to be a field agent to honor Fine. Reason being, Susan is one of few agents who isn’t on Rayna’s radar, much to the chagrin of agent Rick Ford (Jason Statham). Now, Susan is in over her head, and just may be the only person who can win Rayna’s trust to find the bomb before she sells it to the highest bidder.
Spy is hands down one of the funniest movies of the year. Written singlehandedly by Feig — with an obvious amount of onset improv — line after line assaults the funny bone and everyone gets a chance to bring the humor. From Susan’s best friend/co-worker Nancy (Miranda Hart) to Byrne and Statham — both of whom deliver gut-busting lines the likes of which have never been written before. Byrne has been able to show her silly side before (Neighbors, Bridesmaids), but never like this. The same goes for Statham. Who knew The Transporter was so hilarious?!
Feig also knows the ins and outs of a good spy film like the back of his hand. And in true satire fashion, he not only sets aim at the genre, but makes one that can stand on its own. Considering Spy is from 20th Century Fox, they now stand two for two in 2015 after this and Kingsman: The Secret Service. While offering a far more broad approach here than Matthew Vaughn’s exceptional offering, the spy genre is in good hands. Even if never approaching the kind of seriousness of the Bourne series. But don’t let the marketing fool you, this isn’t another “McCarthy-plays-a-schlubby-loser-who-beats-the-odds” role. She takes the material and runs with it, proving she’s here to stay.
It’s also great to see McCarthy shine in the kind of role we’ve been waiting for. Self-assured and absolutely hysterical, there’s no verbal barb she isn’t afraid to sling. Her scenes with Statham in particular are true highlights. Another revolving around a toast between her and Byrne will leave you gasping for breath. Feig also delivers on the action, providing enough excitement to give any summer blockbuster a run for its money. It gives me comfort that his all-female Ghostbusters entry is truly in safe hands. Feig knows comedy, action, and obviously female-empowerment. His streak only seems to be getting stronger, and no matter the project, I always know we’re in for a good time with him steering the ship, and Spy is no exception.