Movie review: Melissa McCarthy powers the action spoof Spy | Arts
Arts
INDY Week's arts blog

Archives | RSS | Follow on

Friday, June 5, 2015

Movie review: Melissa McCarthy powers the action spoof Spy

Posted by on Fri, Jun 5, 2015 at 11:59 AM

click to enlarge Melissa McCarthy finds a role worthy of her talents in Paul Feig's Spy. - PHOTO BY LARRY HORRICKS / COURTESY OF TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX
  • photo by Larry Horricks / courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox
  • Melissa McCarthy finds a role worthy of her talents in Paul Feig's Spy.
Spy 
★★★
Now playing


When she's on her game, Melissa McCarthy is one of the funniest people on the planet. A seasoned improv veteran, her extemporaneous comedy instincts are off the charts—check out the gag reel from Bridesmaids for instant evidence.

But so far, McCarthy's headlining roles in feature films haven't played out so great. Her buddy-cop adventure The Heat, with Sandra Bullock, felt like a missed opportunity. And last year's anti-comedy Tammy was a total mess.

So I'm pleased to report that the new comedy Spy finally provides McCarthy with a pitch she can hit. Written and directed by Bridesmaids conspirator Paul Feig, it's a clever spy-movie spoof that successfully flips the script on the genre by giving us a strong female hero, villain and sidekick.

McCarthy plays Susan Cooper, a desk-bound CIA analyst turned semi-reluctant field agent. It's the Jack Ryan story played for laughs. Our villain is terrorist Rayna Boyanov, portrayed by the reliable Rose Byrne. In the sidekick role is British comic Miranda Hart, perfectly cast.

The espionage plot is thin and goofy, but that's entirely on purpose. The story is only there to structure the gags and set pieces. McCarthy assumes a series of undercover personas as the action moves from Paris to Rome to Budapest. Jude Law joins in as the suave 007 type, and Jason Statham steals all his scenes as a meathead agent gone rogue.

McCarthy is the kind of overpowering comic performer who can make you laugh even when you really don't want to. Spy is filled with lowbrow body-function jokes of the sort that usually make my eyes glaze over, but McCarthy can sell pretty much anything. About halfway through, she delivers one of her patented profane rants—introducing her fists as Cagney and Lacey—and I literally couldn't stop laughing. It's like being tickled, actually. It's essentially an act of aggression.

In its best scenes, Spy is very funny indeed. But there are too many misfires for the comedy to really soar. I estimate about 65 percent of the jokes work. Luckily, Feig is smart enough to maintain a fast pace. When a moment doesn't land, there's no need to worry, because you know that three more gags are coming in fast.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Arts



Twitter Activity

Comments

Here's a shout-out to the dancers and musicians of The Bipeds who are not mentioned by name in this article. …

by The Bipeds on Dance Review: The Many Moving Parts of The Bipeds' 54 Strange Words Don't Always Perfectly Mesh. But When They Do, It's Spectacular. (Arts)

Most Recent Comments

Here's a shout-out to the dancers and musicians of The Bipeds who are not mentioned by name in this article. …

by The Bipeds on Dance Review: The Many Moving Parts of The Bipeds' 54 Strange Words Don't Always Perfectly Mesh. But When They Do, It's Spectacular. (Arts)

You probably want to refrain from using ableist language.

by vidvis on ADF Review: Pilobolus's Crowd-Pleasing Dance Is Apolitical. Unfortunately, the World It Inhabits Is Not. (Arts)

I love stories like this.

by JoeJoey on A Villain Burglarized All Three Ultimate Comics Stores Last Night (Arts)

Mr. Woods must have seen a very different production than the one I saw or perhaps he was having an …

by Amy Ginsburg on Theater Review: Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater's Songs Can't Quite Shine Through a Patchy Production of Spring Awakening (Arts)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation