Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Rose Byrne, Jason Statham, Miranda Hart, Allison Janney, Bobby Cannavale, Nargis Fakhri and Peter Serafinowicz
Writer: Paul Feig
Director: Paul Feig
My name is Bond. Jane Bond. Or perhaps it should be changed to Maxine Smart. Those are just two of the film franchises that many of the gags found in Spy, starring Melissa McCarthy, can be traced to. Spoofs are lots of fun when they are done well and this is no exception.
“Susan Cooper” (McCarthy) is a CIA intelligence analyst who works in a dank Langley basement, serving as overwatch for field agent “Bradley Fine” (Law). She guides him through treacherous missions one after another while pining away with unrequited love for her charge. Then a mission goes awry and he is killed by “Rayna Boyanov” (Byrne) who is trying to sell a portable nuclear weapon to terrorists.
This creates a problem for “Elaine Crocker” (Janney) who is the boss of this unit at the CIA. Rayna demonstrated that she knows who all of the CIA’s top field operatives are, so there is no one to send out to find her. It turns out that Susan is a graduate of the CIA’s Field Agent training program and she volunteers to take the mission. As she was in the ear of Agent Fine while he was in the field, Susan will have her good friend “Nancy” (Hart) from the basement in hers. Agent “Rick Ford” (Statham) is very upset at this turn of events and quits the agency; going into the field himself against orders. That adds amusing complications to Susan’s mission. Of course the fate of the entire world is at stake, as it always seems to be when James Bond is performing seemingly impossible feats with style, swagger and that obvious je ne sais quoi.
Spy spoofs are nothing new. 1951 brought us Bob Hope in My Favorite Spy and since then we’ve seen Our Man Flint, the Matt Helm films, Spy Hard (with brilliant opening graphics created by Weird Al Yankovic), the Austin Powers movies and more. Spy does a great job at poking fun at the entire genre, and all aspects of it.
Melissa McCarthy’s gift for physical comedy is well known and rightly so. However in Spy, she also uses facial expressions and other forms of non-verbal communication that aren’t outright physical comedy to her advantage. I suspect that like most of the best comedic actors, she would probably rock at doing dramatic acting given half a chance. I’d like to see that. The other actors fit right into their roles, particularly Rose Byrne and Jude Law. The action is engaging and the film is very well-paced.