After a host of bad films which largely wasted a very talented Melissa McCarthy, SPY hits the stores on DVD and On Demand in both an R rated cut and an eleven minute longer unrated special edition. You really can’t go wrong with either version, although for me, I usually always prefer the expanded editions. Most of the time they are the “Director’s Cut”. They turn out to be better films, overall. I am not sure if the expanded edition of SPY is a “Director’s Cut” or not but it is one of the best comedies of the year. Like I said, the R rated version is probably just as hilarious.
SPY stars Melissa McCarthy as Susan Cooper. She is a CIA analyst that assists Bradley Fine (Jude Law) on his assignments. She hovers over a computer directing Fine where to go, what bad guys are coming and how many. They make a great team but Fine although appreciative for Susan’s help treats her more like a personal assistant than a respected colleague. He has her fetch his dry cleaning, water his plants and even fire the man mowing Fine’s yard. Cooper on the other hand, has fallen in love with Fine but he is so self absorbed he does not see and probably would not be interested, anyway. When Fine disappears and all of the CIA’s agents covers are blown it is up to a new face to bring down Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne). She is trying to sell a suitcase nuke to the highest bidder so it is a race against time to stop her. Cooper gets the call to go deep undercover so it’s off to Europe, only not in the style she had always dreamed of as an undercover operative for the CIA.
Paul Feig wrote and directed SPY and he has done a terrific job in creating interesting characters in placing them in hilarious situations and pushing their comedic buttons. McCarthy has worked with Feig on The Heat and Bridesmaids, both are very well written and showcase McCarthy’s impeccable comedic timing and her genuine ability to entertain. In SPY she knocks it out of the park and Feig directs with such energy that he seems to know just how far to push a scene to squeeze every last bit of humor out of it. Most of it works and SPY is loaded with scene after scene of clever gags, intelligently funny banter between characters. All of the characters in SPY are put to good use and there is plenty of funny material that Feig spreads around. I was surprised at how much detail Feig will add to a scene too make it work with even more humorous results. Nothing extravagant, but just enough to make it work with some added fun.
McCarthy is terrific as Susan Cooper. We all know about McCarthy’s weight issue but she puts it to good use and seems very comfortable in her own skin, so to speak. She is not afraid to make fun of herself and seems to take everything in stride. Yet, of course, Cooper longs for something more out of her life and her career. McCarthy balances the humor with the more sensitive material quite well. The different covers they give Cooper are simply hilarious and the equipment they issue her are hysterical. There is a James Bond hue to SPY even with the opening credit’s sequence and Feig balances between parody and homage with fondness and respect, but also with a little tweak and a nod. He is having his fun, too.
The entire cast of SPY is solid, as well, in addition to Law and Byrne both of whom show they have some comic chops as well, is Miranda Hart who plays Cooper’s best friend and fellow analyst, Nancy Artingstall. She is given a lot of funny things to do and does them beautifully, too. There is a sequence with hip hop star, 50 Cent, which is quit funny and Hart nails it, perfectly. I was also surprised to see how funny Jason Statham as Rick Ford was. Ford is all testosterone and machismo. He embellishes his career as an agent, having done just about everything and survived, somehow, but his humor is fun and Statham is clearly having fun parodying his Transporter tough guy image. He sells it well and it works. Byrne is not only beautiful but plays her character smart, very calculatingly cold but also has a lot of fun with the role. The cast rounds out with Morena Baccarin, Bobby Cannavale and Allison Janney as the CIA director. They all have the comedic moments and enhance the humor of SPY, nicely. Theodore Shapiro does a nice job with the score and definitely does his best Bond type score with his own flair and it is worth a listen.
Aside from a couple of bits that fall flat, there is really not a moment that is dull or uninteresting and at a run time (expanded edition) that is 130 minutes, the time will fly. SPY is a lot of fun; smart, clever, hilarious and one of the best films of the year.
SPY-****1/2 out of 5
SPY- Rated R for harsh language, nudity and violence
SPY- Run Times- R Rated version- 119 minutes//Unrated Expanded Edition-130 minutes