Spy (review)

spyFormula slapstick and slick production makes a must see, but only for Melissa McCarthy fans.

Director Paul Feig reunites with Melissa McCarthy in the spy spoof of the spring season. McCarthy pours her heart and soul into this flick and it ends up being a good comedy for everyone who, well, likes Melissa. The rest of the audience will wait for the DVD.

The film follows the tried a true spook spoof that worked for Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway in “Get Smart” pretty much from beginning to end. There are no surprises in the screenplay, nor are there meant to be. This is all about the actors, a series of vignettes about being funny being spies. There is some real violence, but instances are few and far between as Feig and the cast concentrate on the laughs and downplay the plot. Do not come to this flick expecting a message.

Jude Law plays Bradley Fine, ace spy, who works in ridiculously close coordination with stay-at-home office spy Susan Cooper (McCarthy). Using advanced drone technology and micro-electronics transmitters Cooper is able to call the shots for Brad before he becomes terrorist barbeque. When Brad mysteriously croaks at the hands of Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne), Susan begs spy boss Elaine Crocker (Allison Janney) to put her into the field to avenge Brad and save the world from the nuclear bomb being peddled in elite spy circles.

That is about the extent of it. Susan shows her stuff, Jason Statham plays the fool Rick Ford and mascot Nancy (Miranda Hart) tags along for laughs. As in “Bridesmaids” the women are the stars in this flick and the men are ciphers. McCarthy is as good as she was in “Bridesmaids” but she is required to fill up much more screen time. By the end of the film her few expressions, understatement, cute, dumb like a fox, are used up and she has nowhere to go. Hart fills in at end and Janney and Ford take up some of the slack.

This may be the breakout performance for British Comedy award winner and four time BAFTA nominee Miranda Hart. She would have stolen the show from McCarthy had she been given any more than ten per cent of McCarthy’s screen time. Jason Statham is the alpha male cipher, towering over Law who plays not so much a character as a black and white Xerox of a James Bond cardboard cut-out. He dials up his Mockney accent to that of a crack smoking stroke victim with a mouth full of ball bearings and stands and delivers. That in combination with fast and preposterous lines gets him over the hump. Rose Byrne would have been better off taking more acting lessons than wasting her time playing Mata-Hair Rayna Boyanov.

The saving graces of the production are the sound track by Theodore Shapiro, the cinematography by Robert Yeoman and the film editing by Mellissa Bretherton. It is the solid, slick production that keeps up the fast pace, which is important in this movie. By the time the audience realizes the last line was not all that funny, there is a new line or situation to laugh at. Call it shotgun comedy but it works, as long as you are in the mood and sympathetic to the McCarthy persona.

Rating: 7/10

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