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Melissa McCarthy Tears It Up in the Action-Heavy Comedy ‘Spy’

Melissa McCarthy Tears It Up in the Action-Heavy Comedy ‘Spy’:

Melissa McCarthy reteams with her Bridesmaids director Paul Feig and costar Rose Byrne in the unimaginatively titled spy action comedy, Spy. Whether or not the movie’s 007-meets-Austin Powers-style spoofery makes you laugh longer, harder, or as often as Bridesmaids is up to you, but funny — and surprisingly violent and action-packed — it is. McCarthy plays Susan Cooper, an undervalued, insecure CIA analyst and computer drone stuck in a basement while seriously crushing on the suave, slippery secret agent (Jude Law) for whom she has been providing the eyes and Intel during his most dicey field missions. A series of double crosses and screw-ups blow the cover on the CIA’s most at-risk agents and that sends Cooper on her own undercover mission to Europe to hunt down a nuclear device that’s fallen into the hands of a sexy, lethal Russian agent named Raina Boyanov (Byrne).

Obviously, Feig’s plot is mostly an excuse for rip-roaringly nasty dialogue, laugh-out-loud gags about secret agent gadgets disguised as hemorrhoid remedies and stool softeners, and standout comic performances. McCarthy is in good form here, especially when her character transforms from a nice little underappreciated go-alonger to a kick-ass action hero and blisteringly foul-mouthed force to be reckoned with. But she is almost upstaged by Jason Statham, who kills it as a nasty-tempered, arrogant, sexist dimwit who stops the show when he does things like go nuts at learning that no Face/Off machine actually exists and spits out lines like, “I’ve shit out enough microchips to make a computer.” More of this, more of him, please.

Rose Byrne gets her licks in too playing the spoiled, bitchy femme fatale in a series of skin-tight outfits that get her described as looking like “a slutty dolphin trainer.“ There’s also expert comic stuff from Bobby Cannavale as a skeevy arms dealer, Allison Janney as McCarthy’s sardonic CIA boss, and the indefatigable Peter Serafinowicz as an Italian horndog. Feig clearly wants the movie to be taken on its own as an espionage thriller, not just a riff on the genre, but he lets the movie go on for way too long. Still, it’s got such energy, a sense of fun, and builds so much good will for McCarthy as its central character, don’t be surprised if a Susan Cooper franchise happens — once Feig, McCarthy, and Kristen Wiig do a number on their Ghostbusters reboot, that is.

SPY: ★★★


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