Last night I went to a screening of the new Paul Feig film, Spy. The film, which stars Melissa McCarthy and features actors that range from Jude Law, Rose Byrne, Jason Statham, and so on, had its world premiere during SXSW this year, and for the most part people seemed to really dig it. Spy is the third collaboration between Feig (who writes and directs the film) and McCarthy, with their first collaboration being 2011’s Bridesmaids, which landed McCarthy an Oscar nomination for her breakout role in that film, and 2013’s The Heat. The premise of Spy sounds like it could be a fun time at the movies, with the film slated for an early summer release of June 5th. Should you go see Spy during that said weekend while I go to Dallas to see The Rolling Stones in concert that Saturday evening? (Sorry that I keep bragging about that. If you listen to my podcast, you’d understand) Let’s find out, here’s the review.
McCarthy plays Susan Cooper, an analyst for the CIA who is the right-hand woman for dashing James Bond-esque spy Bradley Fine, played by Law. After Law and every other agent is compromised by Rayna Boyanov, the daughter of an arms dealer played by Rose Byrne, The CIA has no other choice but to send Susan into the field, where she goes undercover in roles that were probably inspired by many of the characters that McCarthy created and played during her days with The Groundlings comedy troupe before she made it big. Standing in her way is Jason Statham, a super-spy for the CIA who is arguably the best and funniest part of the movie.
I’ll be honest with you, I had some high hopes with the film when it was starting out. The film has this great opening with McCarthy guiding Law’s character through a mission, which then leads into a Bond-inspired credits sequence. It was all really well done, and I was looking forward to laughing more and more throughout the film. I did laugh for the most part during the film, but I was never laughing quite as hard as I did in previous summer comedies, like 22 Jump Street, Ted, or even Bridesmaids, which I wasn’t the biggest fan of but enjoyed for the most part. I’ve always liked Paul Feig, and I think its great that he’s doing the Ghostbusters reboot in a few years, but judging from seeing Spy last night, there may be some room for concern.
Melissa McCarthy is fantastic in the role, as its obvious that Feig wrote the role of Cooper with her in mind. She’s funny, crude when she needs to be, and a kind of bad ass during the very entertaining action sequences. I’m happy that McCarthy didn’t have to rely on her weight as a means of most of the jokes throughout the whole film, which I always felt was a little demeaning that her weight was the basis of many jokes since Bridesmaids was released. The biggest problem that I had with Spy was that it is funny, but it’s never really funny. I laughed and chuckled through most of the jokes, but then there were jokes that were obviously cracking up the crew on set while they filmed the movie (as well as cracking up the audience around me) that just fell flat for me, and they were kind of little lame.
But as I mentioned before, there are a few performances that make Spy stand out. Whenever Jason Statham was on-screen, he was cracking me up from start to finish. I love that Statham was able to take a break from making the same action film over and over again to lampoon his tough-guy personality, and it may be the best performance of his career, next to the work he did with Guy Richie all those years ago in Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Jude Law was also quite good in the role as the dashing spy, even if his American accent was spotty at times. We also get to see Bobby Cannavale have some fun as another arms dealer in the film, as well as Allison Janney as the head of the CIA, and a couple of fun but stupid celebrity cameos.
Overall, Spy is a fun film, but I doubt it will be the breakout hit of the summer. I think that the regular audience moviegoers will love the film, as the audience I saw the film with was having a blast from start to finish. I’d make a safe guess and assume that Judd Apatow’s upcoming film Trainwreck will be a better film than Spy (still beating myself up about not seeing it at SXSW), but who knows. Spy won’t have too much competition in the month of June, as it’ll open the same weekend as the Entourage film (which will unfortunately probably suck) and then a week after Spy opens, Jurassic World opens, which will probably decimate it. So my recommendation for that weekend is to ditch the theater and go see The Stones in Dallas (good luck finding a ticket).