Film Review by Kam Williams
Melissa McCarthy Stars as CIA Analyst-Turned-Spy in Fish-Out-of-Water Comedy
For the past three years, Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) has been stuck sitting behind a desk as an analyst at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. In that capacity, she’s been providing technical support from afar to Bradley Fine (Jude Law), a veteran spy who has successfully handled a series of dangerous missions over the course of a decorated career. Serving as his eyes and ears via hidden cameras and listening devices, the 40 year-old spinster’s been quite content to live vicariously through her dashing colleague, especially given the big crush she has on him.
Everything changes the day he’s murdered while attempting to secure a suitcase bomb about to fall into the wrong hands. Susan subsequently pressures her reluctant boss (Allison Janney) to be allowed to replace her late partner in the search for the the assassin as well as the rogue nuclear device.
Elaine is understandably reluctant, since this would be the plump pencil pusher’s very first field assignment. Nonetheless, she grudgingly gives Susan a new identity (“Carol Jenkins”), before issuing strict orders about keeping a low profile and about observing but never confronting any of the bad guys she encounters overseas.
Needless to say, the rules of engagement are out the window just as soon as Susan’s plane lands in Paris. She blows her
matronly tourist cover by coming to the assistance of a fellow agent (Jason Statham) unaware that he’s in imminent peril.
Between the loose-lipped loudmouth’s need for attention and her appetite whetted for more action, there’s little hope of getting the subtle surveillance genie back in the bottle.
Thus unfolds Spy, the latest collaboration between Melissa McCarthy and writer/director Paul Feig. This film pales in comparison to either Bridesmaids (2011) or The Heat (2013), perhaps because, here, Melissa has been asked to carry the comedy load alone. In Bridesmaids, she shared those duties with a talented ensemble; and in The Heat, her pairing with Sandra Bullock worked to perfection.
By contrast, this picture definitely has its moments, yet one tires of the tendency to rely on Melissa to generate laughs by way of her trademark trash-talk. Those vulgar comments were funny when delivered as unexpected asides in Bridesmaids. Now, they sort of fall flat when exposed as the only material a one-trick pony might have to offer.
A Melissa McCarthy vehicle recommended for fans with a big appetite for her crude, expletive-laced brand of humor.
Good (2 stars)
Rated R for sexuality, brief nudity, violence and pervasive profanity
In English, French, Italian and German with subtitles
Running time: 120 minutes
Distributor: 20th Century Fox