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Spy - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Directing: B
Acting: B+
Writing: B
Cinematography: >B
Editing: B+

There's something strangely satisfying about being able to say that a movie starring the likes of Melissa McCarthy -- which, by the way, passes the Bechdel test with flying colors -- is actually a little over-hyped. There's some irony in how it reflects a culture heading in the right direction.

That said, one might argue that the praise being heaped on Spy is somewhat unfairly because people are so impressed that an action comedy could be successfully carried by a woman who is objectively wonderful but hardly fits the standard Hollywood mold of female beauty. There's something a little condescending about that. McCarthy has proved time and again that she is the best thing in otherwise mediocre movies, from Identity Thief (meh) to The Heat (not bad, not great). Generally speaking, whenever she shows up onscreen, she's what makes a movie worth seeing. That alone doesn't make the movie great.

Spy is one of the better ones, but is still left with plenty of room for improvement. It doesn't really need to be two hours long, and a fair amount of the humor isn't as great as we're expected to think it is. To McCarthy's credit, none of the humor that falls flat comes from her. Honestly this movie would have been vastly improved if the strange cameos by 50 Cent were cut altogether. Does he really tour that much in Italy?

The script, by director Paul Feig, hardly breaks any new ground in terms of storytelling, although it's fun to see what amounts to a middle-aged female James Bond -- complete with theme song during stylized opening credits. And as with James Bond, these movies are only as good as their villains, in the role of which Rose Byrne gives her all, pitch perfect in her snootiness.

The opening sequence shows much promise, as McCarthy's CIA desk jockey Susan Cooper walks her not-so-secret crush, agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law), through an undercover operation. Fine is all suave swagger, deceptively introducing the film as a typical spy thriller, until an allergic sneeze causes a stupid mistake -- the first, well timed laugh in the film. It cuts right through the artificial mood and sets up the comic tone.

But when the CIA finds all of their best agents' identities compromised, Susan Cooper is well positioned to go into the field for the first time, undetected. She gets some unwanted competition from decommissioned agent Rick Ford, played as an overconfident imbecile by Jason Statham. And although it's refreshing to see the likes of Statham being bested at every turn by McCarthy, the shtick wears a little thin.

Such is the case with nearly every element of Spy, including its several over-complicated plot twists involving all the people in search of a nuclear bomb (of course) intended to be sold to terrorists. Just as was the case with the last film in which Paul Feig directed both McCarthy and Rose Byrne, Bridesmaids, the proceedings could be improved overall by pulling back just a little and taking it down a notch.

Still, Spy has its share of genuine laughs, and I only nitpick because I've made it my job. When it comes to the average viewer, who cares? This film is hardly perfection, nor is it as close to it as the critical consensus would have you believe, but it's still going to entertain. And that's all you're here for. It might as well be Melissa McCarthy in that driver's seat, because no one can elevate the material the way she can.

SPY wouldn't even be the pretty good comedy it is without the ample talents of Melissa McCarthy.

Overall: B
1 comment or Leave a comment
tommy50702 From: tommy50702 Date: June 24th, 2015 01:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Genuinely loved the film.
1 comment or Leave a comment