Melissa McCarthy is a very hit and miss actress in my opinion. When she’s on, like in 2011’s Bridesmaids and 2013’s The Heat, McCarthy can light up a screen and be as funny as anyone in Hollywood. But in films like 2013’s Identity Thief or last year’s abysmal Tammy, McCarthy’s talents are wasted as she lowers herself to lowbrow, immature humor that makes her annoying and, at times, unbearable to watch.
I am happy to report, though, that McCarthy is marvelous in Spy, Paul Feig’s James Bond spoof that is tear-inducing hilarious and filled with great action scenes.
McCarthy plays Susan Cooper, an all-too-nice desk agent who goes undercover to stop an arms dealer (Rose Byrne) from selling a nuclear bomb after all the other agents, including pretty boy Bradley Fine (Jude Law doing his best James Bond impression) and the very intense Rick Ford (a scene stealing Jason Statham) have been compromised.
Feig and McCarthy are becoming a comedic version of Scorsese and De Niro. He directed her to an Oscar nomination in Bridesmaids and gave us a glimpse of her action chops in The Heat. This is Feig’s best work to date as a director. The action is fast paced and perfectly shot and as good as any action sequence you will see at the theaters this summer. Feig keeps his screenplay fresh, funny, and tight, giving us a plot that we actually are invested in hidden between the laugh-a-minute jokes.
The impressive cast is on point and perfect. Law plays the pretty boy card as good as anyone. Statham shows his comedic chops while also mocking his action-star self. Allison Janney is becoming one of cinema’s most underrated gems, as she gives yet another great supporting turn as the agency’s leader Elaine Crocker. And Rose Byrne is perfect as the high haired, smarmy villain.
At the end of the day, though, the true star of the film is McCarthy. She takes us on Susan’s journey from conservative desk lady to badass agent and gives a fully realized and rounded performance. It is material like this where McCarthy shines. Susan is smart, witty, devoted, and full of heart and McCarthy hits all the right notes. This is one of the year’s very best performances and arguably the best performance of McCarthy’s career.
RATING – 3.5/4
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