Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Spy

By Sati. Wednesday, July 1, 2015 , , , , , , ,
I love Melissa McCarthy. There are plenty of people who find her crude, annoying and unfunny but I'm not one of those people. I am still baffled that there are those out there who actually hated The Heat, which I think is one of the funniest comedies in recent years. And McCarthy's nomination for her wonderful work in Bridesmaids is one of my all time favorite Oscar nominations. To top these two movies would be tough, but that is exactly what Spy managed to do.

Meet Susan. Susan is a CGI agent but without the glamor of the job - she is eyes the ears of another agent, Bradley Fine (Jude Law). She sits in the basement, navigates him through corridors and frequently saves his life via a headset. Soon Fine is killed by an arms dealer Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne) who also has a list of all the active agents. So Susan volunteers to go in the field herself, seeing how everyone else was compromised. She will have to face self doubt, the bad guys, Rayna, awful disguises and constantly interrupting agent gone rogue, Rick Ford (Jason Statham).
Spy has all the right elements comedy should have - a likable, relatable heroine, a sharp script and plenty of laughs. McCarthy is the heart of the movie and creates a lovely performance - being convincing both as sweet, kind and shy Susan and then a badass agent. The transition between these two sides of Susan never feels jarring, thanks to well written character and McCarthy's talents.

The script yet again, as with other movies from Paul Feig, gives us a huge dose of girl power in the form of McCarthy kicking so much ass and routinely proving herself to be better than her colleagues at being an agent. There's also Susan's friend who serves as Susan's eyes and ears for most of the movie and the two of them have great chemistry together. They really feel like friends. And there is even a bond developing between Susan and Rayna, which is a lovely touch. For the most part, though their interactions are filled with hilarious banter, the best one occurring when Susan is pretending to be Rayna's bodyguard. McCarthy's quick wit known so well by now and her saucy insults are just on fire here, peaking at Susan downright verbally massacring Rayna's other bodyguard.
Susan is given a series of completely ridiculous disguises given to her because she is not some tall, skinny blonde. She is either a widow, a cat lady or cosmetics saleswoman. Thankfully at some point Susan has enough of those and decides to dress her own way. What Feig does here is poke fun at the way women like McCarthy are seen, but never being insulting or offensive. It's a fine line but the script never makes fun of its clever and attractive heroine.

The film also never makes fun of Susan's size - yeah, she cannot slide on the hood of the car, but who the fuck can? The only times Susan's appearance is getting insulted are to do with the way she is dressed, which are disguises. In fact, refreshingly, it's Rose Byrne's Rayna who is more of an object of ridicule - with her ridiculously high heels and super weak arms.
Spy is really such a breath of fresh air and Feig yet again gave us such a great female-driven script. I'm fairly sure the movie passes Bechdel test within its first 15 minutes. I wrote previously that Susan does her job better than her male colleagues but it's not some sort of "women are superior" statement - Susan does the job better not because she is a woman, but because she is skilled, intelligent and resourceful.

While Jude Law's strength was never comedy, he did well here, being a very good fit for his character. A true find, though is Peter Serafinowicz who nearly steals the movie from everyone as completely inappropriate Italian agent who is assigned to help Susan and while doing so he just cannot stop hitting on her. It's so great seeing a woman like McCarthy as an object of such a desire and because of how cute and in the end harmless Aldo is his advances never come off as gross or creepy.
But the real star of the show is none other than Jason Statham. One of my biggest cinematic wishes was for Statham to do comedy again - he was so wonderful in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and one of my all time favorite films - Snatch. Not that I don't appreciate Jason doing his action thing, because I do, but he really has a wonderful comedic talent. So it's just a pure joy not only seeing him again in a funny material but seeing him do so well with it.

Paul Feig is a fan of Statham's action movies and tailored Statham's character in the film especially for him play. Statham plays the part hilariously and he does it so well in part because of the meta thing - his Rick Ford constantly brags about doing impossible things like jumping off a train on motorcycle or attaching his own arm....with his other arm. But here is the twist - Ford continuously screws up, in spite of meaning well. The hilarity of such moments as Ford dramatically saying that he moves like a shadow followed by him bumping into a waiter and causing him to loudly drop the silverware is amplified because it is Statham whom we never before saw screw up....well, anything really.
There's also very amusing Allison Janney as Susan's tough boss who refuses to cradle her but gives her praise when praise is indeed deserved. It was refreshing seeing a realistic character like that - Janney's character doesn't go out of her way to help Susan out of the kindness of her heart, like things usually go in comedies, but much like Susan she just wants to do a good job. That was really cool, to have a movie that preaches girl power without shoving faux stuff like women supporting each other selflessly because of solidarity. As someone who works with a lot of women let me tell you, it's just not terribly realistic, unless the women helping each other out are close friends.

Then there is Bobby Cannavale who is proving himself to be very versatile, bringing intensity to his dramatic roles and here fully embracing his ridiculous character. Miranda Hart is another person for whom Feig wrote the character specifically and she is so funny, particularly in the scenes where she embraces finally being a real spy out in the field.
There is also a whole bunch of people we also saw in Bridesmaids and The Heat, including McCarthy's real life husband, delivering very funny cameo appearance. Perhaps one of the many reasons why Feig's comedies are so good is that they are made by people who obviously like and respect each other and like working together. There is so much fun in this movie and I'm sure it was also tons of fun behind the scenes.

The film also has insanely catchy assembly of songs and is a bottomless well of awesome lines (-It's a man's coat - Yeah, but I don't see a man, do I?"). Then there is whole bunch of additional stuff - like Statham's ridiculous disguises and Rayna's even more ridiculous hairstyles - that only add to how funny Spy is. And there is a lovely message here - in the end Susan finds courage and confidence not because of what others do and say, but because she finally takes a risk and finds out just how capable she really is.

And hey, she gets such a great celebration in the last scene of the movie. I cannot imagine anything better.

I really don't think we will see funnier, more entertaining comedy this year.
Spy (2015, 120 min)
Plot: Susan Cooper is an unassuming, deskbound CIA analyst, and the unsung hero behind the Agency's most dangerous missions. But when her partner falls off the grid and another top agent is compromised, she volunteers to go deep undercover to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer, and prevent a global crisis.
Director: Paul Feig
Writer: Paul Feig
Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Jude Law RELATED POSTS:

36 comments:

  1. Great review! I honestly can't pick who gave my favourite performance out of McCarthy, Byrne, Statham, and Serafinowicz. They were all so great. I really enjoyed the film- it was smart, funny, entertaining, had a female lead (I'm getting bored with male-driven narratives nowadays)- total package :D Also what sort of an imbecile hates The Heat?

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    1. Thank you! I think there was plenty of people who disliked The Heat but I guess it was mostly those who don't like Melissa :(

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  2. I can't wait to see this. I love your passion here, and the statements that the film is making for women's equality is so great! I hope that this year continues this trend, as it seems to be moving that way.

    I'd argue that Law is a very skilled comedian, based on his hilarious work in I Heart Huckabees, but I haven't seen him here, obviously.

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    1. It really does, with this and Mad Max. Two excellent movies depicting feminism in such a healthy way.

      I haven't seen IHH, I liked his work in Sherlock Holmes, though.

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  3. I'll see this film as soon as possible. I actually one of the people who love The Heat. Jason Statham is a really great actor in comedies, don't know why people bash him. I also love him in the Crank films 'cause he is really funny in them. This film sounds so funny. But yeah, Snatch. is one of the best comedies EVER.

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    1. In full agreement with everything you wrote :)

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  4. I agree 100%. This, Heat and Bridesmaids are all McCarthy's babies and she is a true talent. Her quips and improv still get me no matter how many times I watch Heat and Bridesmaids and I imagine the same for Spy. Plus, Statham was really good, too, surprisingly.

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    1. These movies are insanely rewatchable, I must have seen The Heat about 5 times already

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  5. I'm really looking forward to Spy and was so happy to see you do a review! I absolutely loved Bridesmaids and the Heat and thought they were the funniest movies to come along in a long time.

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    1. I think if you loved the other two you'll love this one as well :)

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  6. For your consideration, Jason Statham for Best Supporting Actor... I laughed endlessly whenever he was on screen. I thought The Heat was alright. It's the stuff McCarthy does outside of Feig and Gilmore Girls that I think hurts her as an actress. Here, Feig gets it right as well as making Rose Byrne very interesting. I also loved Miranda Hart in the film as I was laughing over the fact that she went nuts for a certain hip-hop superstar.

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    1. Absolutely! I'd be so psyched if he was Globe nominated for this one. Hart and 50 Cent subplot was so amusing :D And Byrne's character was really well written, especially her relationship with Susan and all the quirkiness like her ridiculous hair and clothes

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  7. Such a lovely review! It just oozes how much you sincerely loved this film. Aww...

    I also really enjoyed this one, I just don't think it topped The Heat. As much as I loved what McCarthy did here, she f--king destroyed me (and Bullock's character) in that one. She was ON. FIRE.

    Ah, Statham. Hopefully we see more of Ford in the near future. He was so delightfully ridiculous here, I could hardly handle it.

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    1. Thanks so much! :D

      "I'll kill you and kill her with your dead body!" - The Heat is so awesome :)

      I'd love for them to do the sequel to this one, I wonder why Feig's movies never get sequels :(

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  8. Great review! This is currently my favorite Melissa McCarthy flick and I love how funny she is here. Her other comedic movies don't do her justice, and her collaborations with Paul Feig have been awesome; he tends to bring out the best of her talents. I haven't seen Statham in a comedy so his performance was refreshing for me. Rose Byrne also manages to steal her scenes.

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    1. Thank you! You should see Jason in Snatch, such a fantastic movie too!

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  9. Excellent review! I'm one of those people that hates McCarthy, but you've pretty much sold me on this one. I'll probably see it.

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    1. Thank you! I think you'll like it, it's really very funny and every actor gets to have some hilarious scenes

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  10. Coming back to read this after I see the movie. :-)

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  11. Great review Sati! I heard this film was good, but I'm glad it lived up to the hype. I can't wait to see this film. Like you, I adore Melissa. She if fantastic.

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    1. If you adore her you're gonna LOVE this one! :)

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  12. I knew you'd love this! Such good fun! :)
    I think Statham will stay in my lineup/top ten at the end of the year.

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    1. I think he may even be in my top 5 :)

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  13. Great review! I am incredibly excited to see this, and I love that it's helping with the treatment of women in film. Also, I was not aware that there were actually people who hated The Heat… like, what? Is that even possible?

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    1. Yeah I remember when the movie was released and there were all those scathing comments about it, including the blogosphere. I genuinely adore The Heat but Spy is even better

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  14. I hope, above all, that Statham continues with comedies and Miranda Hart will get more roles in movies now. Both are fabulous supportive characters in Spy and I wouldn't mind separate movies about them both.

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    1. I'd love to see Rick Ford movie :D

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  15. Great review! I agree, I would be shocked if we see a better comedy this year. And yeah, there's no denying how amazing Statham was in this movie. Such a wise decision to play that character totally straight.

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    1. Thank you! I really hope he does more comedy or teams up with Ritchie again!

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  16. I enjoyed this one too! McCarthy is very likable and fun to watch here, this is the first movie I see her in and the role fits her well. I love Miranda Hart and Rose Byrne too and Stath rules in this one! He should do more comedies and hope he teams up w/ Ritchie again soon!

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    1. God Jason should just do comedies for the rest of eternity :) So glad you liked this one!

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  17. Great review! Cant wait to see it DVD. Im actually excited for a raunchy comedy and I thought Id never say that considering the stare they are now.

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    1. Thank you! This one is really funny and the script is wonderful

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  18. Nice review! I'm surprised it scored a 9.3, but it's awesome to see you rate it so highly. It really is a funny, well-cast piece of entertainment. I'm crossing my fingers that Statham makes my final Best Supporting Actor lineup! :)

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    1. Oh I just really love Feig's movies, Melissa and Jason in comedy again is really a dream come true for me :)

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