Spy Review

Posted: December 13, 2015 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

SPY_1SHEETWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

Kristen Wig may have been the lead of 2011’s Bridesmaids, but without a doubt, the breakout star was Melissa McCarthy. I can’t say I was a huge fan of that film, but I did like her performance and thought she had some comedic potential. However nothing she’s done since has even come close to matching that level of success. Every film McCarthy has starred in post Bridesmaids has looked awful and the films have generally received terrible reviews. The trailer for Spy didn’t really like any different and I was perfectly fine with just ignoring it. However it ended up being met with pretty respectable reviews. On top of that, I really haven’t seen all that many comedies this year and felt I should start changing that.

Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is a CIA analyst who spends most of her days sitting at a desk speaking into the ear piece of super spy Bradley Fine (Jude Law). Though Fine is a very effective secret agent, it’s very clear he wouldn’t be nearly as effective if not for Susan’s instructions. Fine is assigned with finding a nuclear device, but is killed by terrorist Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne), who reveals she knows the identities of all the CIA’s undercover agents. With all of their agents compromised, the agency needs an unknown face to infiltrate Rayna and find the device. Susan volunteers to go undercover herself, despite no field experience and the fact that she lacks the physicality of other spies. Desperate for options, the CIA reluctantly agrees.

Part of my disinterest in Spy stemmed from the fact that I feel the spy-parody movies have run their course with the likes of Austin Powers, Johnny English, and Get Smart. But as it turns out, this isn’t really a spoof so much as it is a genuine spy movie, just told in a comedic fashion. The best decision made in this regard is the characterization of Susan. She isn’t dumb or crass, in fact she just isn’t inherently suited for field work and experiences a bit of a learning curve. Susan is actually an intelligent woman, she just suffers from confidence issues and it’s actually kind of satisfying to watch her grow. The action scenes are also better than the typically are in these kind of films. I don’t think they could really hold their own in an actual action movie and some of the vfx work is a little subpar, but in something light like this, it works pretty well.

The other question with Spy is simply whether or not I found it funny. Well, kind of. I certainly find my share of chuckles here. There are some amusing lines and the supporting cast is full of funny people. Jason Statham has received a lot of attention for his performance as a really intense, though ultimately not very effective spy and it’s mostly well earned. It was also nice to see Allison Janney, Bobby Canavale, Peter Serafinowicz, and Michael McDonald in small roles. The show stealer might actually be Rose Byrne as the film’s villain. I also like how McCarthy toned down her usual broad style for a more reserved performance. That all said, I can’t say I ever found the film to ever be hilarious. All it ever really elicited out of me were some chuckles and there are also plenty of gags that don’t work. There is a particularly egregious celebrity cameo here that really feels forced. I know these are a staple of modern comedies and I sometimes like these sort of jokes, but it doesn’t work in this film’s spy plot.

Spy is a better film than I expected to be, but I still don’t think it adds up to being anything more than just okay. The film is never really able to turn its chuckles into belly laughs and overall it’s a pretty minor film. That said, Spy is a perfectly amusing film that does pass the time nicely. If you’re looking for a light watch one afternoon or you see it playing on TV, Spy is probably worth a look.

C+

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