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With Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy back together again, the ever so slight blemish in McCarthy’s record, Tammy, is quickly forgotten as McCarthy reclaims the crown of Queen of Comedy.
Review (with Spoilers) – Below
Characters & Story
As usual, Melissa McCarthy plays a likable oddball named Susan who, for most of her career in the CIA, has been working as an assistant to agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law). Someone who she admires, has a crush on, but you can see takes advantage of her kindness. Luckily, though, while Mr. Fine may underestimate Susan, at least, to some degree, Susan’s best friend Nancy (Miranda Hart) has her back.
Something which becomes really helpful for when Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne) assumes power from her father and tries to make a nuclear weapons deal, we learn Susan is the only one who can stop her. Why? Well, because Rayna seemingly knows every single last agents’ identity. Though, in the film, the only agents worth noting are Fine, Rick Ford (Jason Statham), Susan and Nancy of course, and Karen Walker (Morena Baccarin).
So with all the CIA’s top agents being known, but Susan and Nancy since neither have left the CIA basement, Elaine Crocker’s (Allison Janney) decision to put Susan on the case. Leading to us learning that while you think Susan was stuck at a desk because she wanted to be, that certainly wasn’t the case.
Without a doubt, those who may have thought Melissa McCarthy might have been over due to Tammy were wrong. If only because it seems Tammy’s purpose was an experiment. One which I think led to McCarthy becoming a stronger actress in terms of the emotional side to her comedic characters. Which isn’t to say, at all, this film may make you cry, but I do think, as time goes on, we’ll like see McCarthy becoming like Jim Carrey, and a few others, who can just as well fit into a comedy movie as they would a drama.
Focusing on Spy, though, arguably McCarthy and Feig should become like Spike Lee and Denzel Washington, or Quentin Tarintino and Samuel L. Jackson. For between this, The Heat, and the movie which put McCarthy on the map: Bridesmaids, it shows that Feig knows McCarthy’s talents well enough to drive a good performance and, paired with his writing, it seems he understands the type of comedy McCarthy does well, and it seems he even decided to let her character evolve as well. Albeit, it isn’t a monstrous change, from Susan in the basement to super spy, but you can see the aim was to do more than McCarthy be the butt of jokes, her get a few comebacks, and then have as much physical comedy as McCarthy, or her stunt double, could handle.
Though, setting aside McCarthy’s well-deserved place as lead, you also have to admire her co-stars. One especially who deserves praise is Statham since, at least to my knowledge, I didn’t know he could be funny. Granted, a lot of his jokes are sexist, and thankfully his sexism is addressed, but overall it is hard to deny he probably was the 2nd funniest person in the film. Hmmm, though considering Hart, who I knew solely through The Graham Norton Show, does quite well in her character, and Byrne plays a snotty butt hole so well, I think the battle for the #2 position maybe is worth arguing about.
Now, focusing on the story, pretty much it’s good in terms of getting what needs to be done, but it doesn’t have the emotional depth of Tammy. For while, yes, Susan does evolve as a person, it isn’t the type of change which seems to be huge in a way. Like, be it because McCarthy is playing on stereotypes people have of women her size, or simply because Susan, even with her divorce and mommy issues, just doesn’t seem like a three-dimensional person, it is hard to say that the story has any interest in building the characters besides a paragraph about parental issues.
Outside of that, there aren’t any glaring issues, unless you count the fact this movie is as pale as the background of most clocks.
Overall: Worth Seeing
Being that memories of Tammy led me to believe maybe McCarthy wanted her characters to be more than punching bags, both physically and joke wise, I must admit I was hoping for a bit more. But, at the end of the day, this film isn’t a drama so expecting a story which deals with emotions, on more than a superficial level, is asking too much. So, the reason this is worth seeing is because it is quite funny and consistent with its jokes; it presents a few nice twists here and there; and, ultimately, you never feel like you are sitting in a theater for 2 hours. For truly, there isn’t much here to not enjoy.
A Few Thoughts
Is it just me, or does Michael McDonald pretty much always plays buzzkills in movies now?
Laughed 34 times.
Though not a lot of credit was specifically given, Rose Byrne was quite funny and I liked she played the opposite of what you’d expect. For, in my mind anyway, picturing her as a villain, with a rather condescending attitude, and nasty mouth, isn’t the first thing I think of when I think of Byrne. Yet, she plays it so well that you have to wonder what was her inspiration for, while I say there is a fight for #2, arguably while everyone is going hand to hand, she got a knife up her sleeve.
Sexism, though a blurb on the praise, is a consistent issue. Mostly due to how Ford acts toward Elaine and Susan, whether it is dismaying their opinion, even if Elaine is his supervisor, and using words which mean vagina just to piss Elaine off.
Also, I do wonder if McCarthy ever feels a certain type of way about playing characters who, often, are stereotypes of big women, such as them being slobs or likely single. For with her being one of the few actresses of her size, who are the lead characters in her movies, it just seems weird that many of her characters always begin with them being trashed for being big and that being an almost consistent foundation for most of the jokes used against her. I mean, yay for representation, but I’m starting to think the often cited Tammy, which she wrote, was to try to fight against roles like this in a way. But maybe I’m just sensitive and probably not conveying this idea well.