Friday, June 5, 2015

Movie Review #267: "Spy" (2015)

Ticket Price: $9.75
Director: Paul Feig
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours
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Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) works for the CIA as an intelligence agent who feeds information to field agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law) to assist him in his job. When the identities of all thr CIA field agents are compromised, Susan has to come out of 'the basement' and leave the safety of her desk to into the field and go undercover to bring down Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne). Boyanov is looking to sell a nuclear weapon on the black market to the highest bidding terrorist. 

We aren't always the biggest fans of Melissa McCarthy and we have expressed this several times on this here blog of ours. Instead of uproariously entertaining like most people, we often find her shtick a little tired and abrasive, but luckily, that is not the case here. "Spy" is straight up hilarious, and Melissa McCarthy is very funny in this in film. This movie is a great parody of the spy film genre. McCarthy plays Susan Cooper, a CIA agent who graduated at the top of her class at the academy, but has been working a desk as an intelligence agent for the past decade. While she is good at her job, it's obvious that she's stuck in a rut, unassuming and sort of in the shadows as an agent. When the identities of all the field agents are compromised, Susan volunteers to go out into the field, and though trained for the job, she is 10 years out of practice and doesn't exactly look the part. She is constantly given horrible secret identities, such as a single mother or a lonely cat lady, and is given spy gadgets which are less than flattering, a la hemorrhoid wipes that are secretly really chloroform-soaked wipes. Even though she has the odds stacked against her at first, McCarthy's Susan gets in the thick of the action rather quickly and shows us that she can kick some major ass. We liked to see her character develop from a shy, rather timid desk official to a badass, vulgar and fierce field agent. Though that typical Melissa McCarthy "let's say fuck because it's funny and let's be crass because I can be!" brand of humor is still present towards the latter half of the film, it actually fits Susan's development as a character and doesn't seem so out of place like it has in her past works. There are a few jokes that didn't work over the course of 2 hours, but this ratio was about 90% worked to 10% didn't work. It always seems like when the script is reaching the hardest for a joke, these are the moments when they failed, mostly because the situations at hand were funny on their own and didn't need another joke in the first place. But, we are willing to ignore these few low hanging fruits since we pretty much laughed consistently through the entire film.

Susan's biggest objector is field agent Rick Ford, played by Jason Statham, who quits his CIA job when Susan is allowed to go undercover by director Elaine Crocker, played by Allison Janney, who is taking over the world YET AGAIN. Statham is widely and wildly known for his involvement in big, over the top action roles, and director Paul Feig definitely uses this reputation as a vehicle for some great jokes. Statham's Ford constantly talks a big game, but his over-confidence in his abilities and his refusal to stay out of the way even though he has gone off the grid starts to cause problems for both himself and for Susan. In an odd turn of events, it's actually Statham's character who is the bumbler in this film. Instead of being a super amazing ass-kicker, which he is sort of allowed to do a time or two here and there, more often than not, he's the one putting his foot in his mouth in the thick of danger. Statham is able to flex some comedic chops, too, and we really welcomed this change of pace for him. He seemed to nestle into this role very well, especially when recanting his outrageous and unbelievable field stories. He and McCarthy have a lot of good back and forth banterings with one another and even though sometimes they are angry, they are almost always hilarious. Their chemistry is quite believable, as is the rest of the chemistry in this film. And speaking of bantering, Rose Byrne plays Rayna Boyanov, a rich, spoiled princess and daughter of a criminal mastermind who was murdered in action. She and her permanently bitchy expression get in on a lot of swipes and gripes, making fun of anything and everything she can, especially what she thinks are McCarthy's horrible wardrobe choices; she even goes so far as to compare her to her obviously crack addicted mother. While this is typically not our favorite type of comedy, it almost always works here. Jude Law plays, well, Jude Law, but with a gun and an American accent. He and McCarthy also have excellent patter between one another as Susan Cooper is his go-to in-ear liaison in all matters of the field. She is obviously smitten with him and he is none the wiser, too dumb and self absorbed to notice. We also get to see Peter Serafinowicz, who plays the bosom obsessed, Italian and failed smooth talker agent Aldo. He is lively and boisterous with his perverted one-liners and a flashy smile. Also in this film is Bobby Cannavale, and if you have read this blog for long, you'll know I personally love him. I was surprised to see him pop up here since I didn't know he was in the film, but boy, does he look good in eyeliner. We don't want to give too much of his character away, but let's just say, he plays it well. The other great things about this movie is the violence, which sounds weird but actually works in "Spy." All of the violence is really quite graphic, as much as any other hard R-rated action film, and this may sound strange but by making it so graphic, it makes it that much more damn funny!

In a world obsessed with Melissa McCarthy, BigJ and I have often felt left out when it comes to her as an actress. Where we have always seen an initial appeal and potential, we have continuously been disappointed with the final result, and we have the reviews to prove it. "Spy" offers what appears to be the same old shtick, but somehow, it's refreshing and new and funny, for once. We would definitely consider owning this movie for its outrageous violence, its constant laughs, its great character interactions and Bobby Cannavale. A great action comedy!

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~95%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!


  1. It’s genuinely very well done, slick and entertaining on its own action rights, full of well-choreographed car chases, shootouts and knife fights that helps elevate the film above other, similar spy comedies.

    1. Completely agreed. I thought all of the action was great, the spy elements were hilarious and the comedy was outstanding! Our favorite Melissa McCarthy movie by far.