A review of Paul Feig’s “Spy,” with Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Miranda Hart and Jason Statham as comic secret agents. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.
Melissa McCarthy’s infectious giggle is put to good use in “Spy,” a cheery if slightly overlong romp from writer/director Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids,” “The Heat”). As Susan Cooper, a brilliant but deskbound CIA agent, she lights up like a kid on the first day of summer vacation. “Am I going?” she says incredulously, upon learning that she’s about to be sent out into the field — Europe, no less — for the first time, and she can’t contain her giddiness … even upon learning that her new identity will be, well, less than glamorous. Her eyes sparkle with excitement upon seeing a table of shiny, James Bond-ish gadgets; “Those aren’t yours,” she’s told briskly, and the sparkle fades — but just a bit.
After seeing McCarthy’s talents wasted in last summer’s thoroughly unfunny “Tammy,” it’s a kick to see her having so much fun here — and, for that matter, to see a spy spoof with a woman at its center. Susan gets pulled into an investigation after her in-the-field partner Bobby (a suave Jude Law, apparently born to appear in spy spoofs) is apparently murdered at the hands of international woman of intrigue Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne, a world-class sneerer), whose villainy is rivaled in vastness only by a coiffure approximately the size of France. (“Lucky your hair broke your fall,” notes Susan, when Rayna takes a tumble.)
Throw in Susan’s geeky CIA buddy Nancy (Miranda Hart), and resentful rogue agent Rick Ford (Jason Statham), who’s quite convinced that the agency has a secret Face/Off machine somewhere that they won’t tell him about, and you’ve got a formidable comedy troupe. This is, though, a star turn for McCarthy, and she’s both sweet and vulnerable (Susan cherishes a secret crush on Bobby, to the point that she hilariously lets it slip that she’s named their theoretical children) and a formidable action-movie heroine. Feig, though his film isn’t perfect (it has a few slow spots, and you wish Allison Janney, as Susan’s boss, had some funnier lines), is a summer-movie master: “Spy,” plus popcorn, feels just right.
Movie Review ★★★
‘Spy,’ with Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Miranda Hart, Bobby Cannavale, Allison Janney. Written and directed by Paul Feig. 120 minutes. Rated R for language throughout, violence, and some sexual content including brief graphic nudity. Several theaters.