Melissa McCarthy has accomplished more than offering up a light comedy this summer, much more than a silly spy spoof. She’s headlining a continuation of a recent trend of feminism and female empowerment in film via her latest comedy vehicle, in Paul Freig’s SPY (2015).
After screening SPY, I wasn’t surprised at all to hear that the same writer/director who brought us BRIDESMAIDS (2011) and THE HEAT (2013) is the man behind this film. In addition to bringing on several of the same actors, that same genuinely funny humor is present here. It was very clever, with moments of graphic realism for a touch of ‘gross-out toilet humor’ and basically, I laughed my ass off- out loud- which is always a good sign.
SPY mostly follows the basic predicatable formulas as you might expect in a Hollywood spy parody. Not as wild and whacky as CASINO ROYALE (1967) and while there is one scene in particular that screams Austin Powers it follows much closer to a true Bond film in spy theme. It’s what you might expect if you took the clever writing from BRIDESMAIDS and popped in Melissa McCarthy as the lead and just let her go ‘do her thing.’ McCarthy takes charge by showing us again her natural range in comedy. We see her subtle ways of self-depricating narrative to her explosive moments of ‘fired up’ action.
Melissa McCarthy is introduced as Susan Cooper, the CIA trained agent/analyst with ‘ears inside the head’ of Jude Law, the dashing CIA agent Bradley Fine. The highly successful duo work like a masterfully choreographed dance until Fine is taken out of commission. Fine’s assassin (Rose Byrne as Rayna Boyanov) threatens to take out all the remaining field agents. So with great reluctance they place Cooper in the field (as the only agent who knows the intel very well yet wouldn’t be recognizable by their target.) The adventures kick off soon as Cooper starts going with her instincts, unleashing her ‘inner agent’ self and starts kicking ass all over Europe.
Besides McCarthy being down-right hilarious, a key highlight is the comedic chemistry we experience in pairings with her co-stars. Scenes with Rose Byrne, Jason Statham, Peter Serafinowicz, and Miranda Hart are especially snort-chuckle inducing. I honestly don’t know how Statham and Byrne were able to keep straight faces delivering their lines.
Another plus for me is the characterization of Cooper as the female lead. What a refreshing rarity to not only see a female in the lead of an action comedy, but also to see her portrayed as intelligent, savvy, and she doesn’t look like a half-starved-to-death, supermodel freak show. When the verbal spars are exchanged on screen, (like between Byrne and McCarthy) even the insults are not solely focused on the typical fat-shaming sort, as usually seen with any plus-sized comedian (who looks closer to the average American than the eating disorder look that Hollywood often prefers).
The female bonding throughout and equality of pairings is like a breath of fresh air for the Hollywood norm. McCarthy’s role as Cooper shows more depth and authenticity- we can relate to this lady (well, that is if we had mad skills as a CIA agent, but one can dream). In addition to the chemistry and performances, the witty writing is what makes this comedy click.
SPY has all the elements that worked well in BRIDESMAIDS plus it better showcases Melissa McCarthy’s hilarious talents, which I predict will continue to skyrocket her career. With the more recent crop of films depicting improved female roles, empowerment and friendships, such as: BRIDESMAIDS (2011), THE HEAT (2013), BABY MAMA (2008), HOT PURSUIT (2015), and even MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (2015), I for one would be thrilled to see this trend continue.
Direction and Screenplay: Paul Feig.
Cast: Melissa McCarthy. Jason Statham. Miranda Hart. Jude Law. Rose Byrne. Peter Serafinowicz. Raad Rawi. Jessica Chaffin. Sam Richardson. Katie Dippold. Richard Brake. Bobby Cannavale. Carlos Ponce. Michael McDonald. Julian Miller. Alessandro De Marco. Björn Gustafsson. Ben Falcone. 50 Cent. Allison Janney.
2 thoughts on “SPY (2015) is the Gal Pal, Snort Fest”
Well I guess I’m going to have to check out “Bridesmaids” and “Heat” one of these days. The promos for those movies did not entice, but “Spy” did and I haven’t laughed that hard at a new movie in a long, long time.
It is also a movie that crosses generational lines. I saw it a few days ago with my 79-year-old mother and my 24-year-old daughter. Boy, were we a noisy audience!
I’m so glad to hear you all enjoyed this flick as much as I did. That Melissa McCarthy is so talented & funny! Bridesmaids is especially hysterical too- lemme know what you think!