Spy Review

7 Overall Score
Performances : 8/10
Script : 7/10
Direction : 7/10

McCarthy, Supporting Cast, Competency, Big Laughs

Predictable, Plot Elements, Sometimes Too Broad

In a male-dominant Hollywood, actresses such as Melissa McCarthy continue to give the ladies a strong fighting chance. While McCarthy is certainly not the most consistent comedian out there, her launch a successful film does not waver. Referring to her just as the “female Chris Farley” doesn’t give her enough credit, as she brings more to the table than pratfalls and cusses (though she does do an uncanny Matt Foley impression). Spy is McCarthy at her comedic best, a espionage parody of broad, raunchy proportions that hands the Mike and Molly star her juiciest film role to date.


Part James Bond, part Jason Bourne, with a sprinkle of Austin Powers in between, McCarthy plays Susan Cooper, a basement analyst for the CIA, specifically the suave Agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law). Tragedy befalls the agency in an attempt to retrieve a nuclear missile from Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne), daughter of an international arms dealer. Boyanov has obtained the names and identities of all the CIA assets in play, so it will take someone off the books to bring her to justice. Cooper sees this as her time to shine, but is she in over her head?

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Actually, no she isn’t. Cooper’s skills as an agent are surprisingly polished. She is generally the most competent person in the room, and is capable of neutralizing a major threat with little to no help. At several points, she is faced with an impossible situation, and gets out of it with her plausible wits and ingenuity. The film is more about her realizing her potential as that agent, and there lies the duality of McCarthy’s performance. Having made a career out of playing ultra confident and aggressive hotshots, McCarthy still gets to play that in the film’s second half, as Cooper comes into her own and starts to let the insults fly. However, for the first part of the film we see her play insecure and vulnerable, exploring another side of her gift as a performer.


McCarthy and director/writer Paul Feig reunite for the third time, and as far as I’m concerned, they’re three for three. Spy never quite surprises and subverts to the extent of 2011’s smash hit Bridesmaids, but it connects more than 2013’s The Heat. Feig understands that the key to good parody is keeping things relatively grounded, that way the more outlandish elements stand out. What surprised me the most about Spy is not only how much it understands the genre, but also how competent the imitation is sketched. For every F-Bomb or gratuitous shot of a penis, there’s an exciting action scene or a dizzying double cross. Take some of those out and you’ve got a middle-tier actioner suitable for the late summer months.


It’s a good thing they don’t take those things out, however, as Spy brings laughs in bulk quantities. An equally strong supporting cast back the clever script and McCarthy’s performance. Jason Statham as a bumbling but self-assured version of the Transporter and Byrne as the snobby, capital B-word villainous daddy’s girl threatens to steal the movie under McCarthy at every turn. Law, Allison Janney, Peter Serafinowicz, and Miranda Hart also do strong work. Mix all these elements together and you get a riotous mainstream comedy that ranks among the best of the year so far. It’s nothing deep, but Spy has a license to make you laugh, and it uses it.

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Author: Andrew Auger View all posts by
Andrew Auger is a student at Marist College and is majoring in Journalism. He is a huge fan of movies, and considers the late film critic Roger Ebert his idol. He hopes to one day be a prestigious film critic just like Mr. Ebert.

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