Spy

★★★★
Quite possibly the funniest movie of the summer.
Movie Review #994

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Starting off, you wouldn’t even guess that it’s even a comedy. Melissa McCarthy and Jude Law play two CIA agents who are also involved romantically. The intense seriousness that permeates the opening is enough to make Daniel Craig’s Bond movies look like Roger Moore’s. We have McCarthy at her desk, monitoring Law as he interrogates the enemy at gunpoint. The very person in front of him is the only person who may know the location of a certain briefcase that contains a nuke. Unfortunately, Law’s gun goes off when he sneezes, just moments before retrieving the necessary information.

This is Paul Feig’s creative hand at work. He hasn’t written a movie in twelve years, and in fact, “Spy” is his first comedy. It turns out that as good as he is at directing comedy, he’s even better when he’s writing it as well. Feig’s screenplay underscores the greatest kind of self-conscious humor. He sends up spy movies, but at the same time, he also crafts a substantial one of his own.

What sets “Spy” apart from other action comedies is not only is it wildly funny, it’s also equally considered with its action side. Any Hollywood comedy can have a simple plot, add in guns, and suddenly refer to itself as an action-comedy. Feig doesn’t do that with “Spy”. His script offers equal exercise to the heart and the lungs, and in fact it gives both of those a pretty good workout. Not to bring up the weakest Bond twice in a single review, but “Spy” tells a story ten times more developed than any of Roger Moore’s flicks, with at least five times the twists and turns.

The assortment of heroes and villains here is phenomenal, and even more so when the lines are blurred. It’s also rather surprising: I don’t think I would have ever guessed that Rose Byrne would play the evil, bitchy mastermind, but it seems this might be the role she has been looking for. Of course, her role is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but she still strikes me as the perfect cross between an evil mastermind and a flat-out bitch. (Melissa McCarthy, evidently, had a different word in mind, and despite the roar of laughter her terminology earned her, it’s far too colorful for me to repeat in this review.) Jude Law also couples surprisingly well with McCarthy, and Jason Statham shamelessly sends up the practically invincible characters that pretty much identify him by now.

Of course, the true star of the show, from any angle, is McCarthy, who, at the height of a terrorist threat, moves up from her banal desk job to work as a field agent, undercover as an old lady who surrounds herself with cats. (You’d be surprised how long this one-joke character actually lasts.) “Spy” is the third McCarthy-Feig collaboration thus far. It’s also their best. Their next project, due for release next July, is the much-talked-about, all-female reboot of “Ghostbusters”. Initially, I wasn’t too keen on the idea, but the caliber they’ve reached with “Spy” is too promising to be anything short of excited.

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