“Spy” delivers sharp humor and memorable characters in a homage to classic spy films

Alex Pelham

It seems obvious that “Spy” was produced as a star vehicle for comedian Melissa McCarthy. This isn’t really an issue, as McCarthy is talented and has before proven that she is a comedic powerhouse. Reteaming with writer and director Paul Feig, whose gut-busting screenplay propels the film to extraordinary levels, the actress finally steps into a leading role that allows her to use her personality to mock the spy film genre.

Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is a secret agent for the CIA, but unfortunately, the only work she does for the agency is from behind a desk. Her job is to look out for her partner Bradley Fine (Jude Law), a carbon copy of James Bond, by being his "eyes and ears" while he is out saving the world. During one mission, Fine killed by femme fatale Rayna (Rose Bryne). After Rayna reveals that she knows the identity of all active CIA spies, the agency decides to send the unassuming Cooper to find Rayna. Desperate to avenge Fine and stop Rayna’s father from getting his hands on a nuke, Cooper teams with hotheaded agent Rick Ford (Jason Statham) to get ahold of the nuke and save the world.

Watch the trailer for "Spy" now:

“Spy” probably isn’t the best satire of spy films around, but it knows how to use its source material to incorporate well-written humor. Some elements of well-known spy franchises are used wonderfully. One example includes a moment when Cooper receives an assortment of high-tech gadgets for her mission – but is dismayed that they are concealed in toe-fungus spray cans and hemorrhoid cream. Other homages to the genre lack the creativity of others. The stylized opening theme reminiscent of those found in the James Bond franchise is bland and unoriginal.

McCartney is hilarious as the eccentric, but strong-willed Cooper. While some may be fooled by trailers painting the character as a dimwit who’s out of her element, it’s clear early in the film that she is as experienced as her male counterparts. She’s a goofball, but she takes her job seriously and can take on any gun-toting thug that comes near her. Bryne’s sharp-tongued Rayna is another highlight. After being presented in Feig’s previous film “Bridesmaids” as a good-intentioned sweetheart, it’s amusing to see her return as a profanity-spewing, spoiled heiress. Statham’s role as an arrogant undercover spy is underplayed, but the moments where he dons ridiculous disguises are hysterical.

Feig’s hilarious screenplay drives the film. Every laugh aims for, and mostly succeeds, in getting a laugh. Some of the jokes fall flat and end up going nowhere, but Feig knows how to channel McCarthy’s energy and comedic talent to avoid unfunny pitfalls. The humor isn’t exactly subtle, as Feig goes straight toward belly laughs. Critics of obscene or bodily humor will likely not get much laughs out of “Spy,” but as this film comes from the mind who packed tons of gross-out moments into “Bridesmaids,” they should know what they’re getting into.

“Spy” delivers a solid, humorous take on a genre that is already pretty ridiculous. Feig’s quip-filled screenplay gives the film its edge and makes good use of the actors’ comedic abilities. McCarthy is funny as the goofy, but skilled agent, and it’s her humor that ultimately makes the film work. Proving once again that the McCarthy-Feig combo delivers great results, the two deliver another memorable, hilarious hit.

Director: Paul Feig

  • Genre: Comedy
  • Runtime: 120 minutes
  • Rating: 7/10 Disguished Jason Stathams