June 1, 2015

SCREEN | Melissa McCarthy Mocks the 'Spy' Genre

Melissa McCarthy Rose Byrne | Spy

Spy, comedian Melissa McCarthy and comedy director Paul Feig's third team up, is a highly entertaining but wholly uneven comedy take off on the titular film genre. Its chief success is the turn on gender stereotypes it subverts where the comely female assistant (think Moneypenny) becomes the real brains of the operations as the one carrying out international espionage missions.

McCarthy's brand of physical and verbal comedy is far more enjoyable when balanced out with other well-developed elements and characters to play off of. The cast around her is spectacular as they all portray a slight take off on their usual roles where Jason Statham is absolutely hilarious riffing on his tough guy image just as Jude Law parodies his easygoing suave and bravado sublimely, and Rose Byrne hams in up as a European femme fatale wearing the most ridiculous big haired wig.

The comedy is also made all the better by having most of its characters being extremely competent in doing their jobs despite an endless plethora of sight gags, mishaps, and other tropes to mine for laughs. Not to mention, Feig really doubles down on the death count with a healthy dose of realistic looking gore never seen in most spy movies as the film takes efforts to subvert our expectations.

It's easy to see Spy's broad appeal. There's nothing particularly wrong about the film or its comedy aside from being a little too long, featuring maybe a few jokes too many, and having other general flaws within the spy genre. That said, it's very mild and more along the lines of The Heat than Bridesmaids (their two other comedies together). It's really the ensemble and focus away from McCarthy where the film really shines in its gentle spoofing of spy films.

More | AV ClubScreenCrush / The Dissolve

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