Chris Rock flawlessly transitioned from years of stand-up television comedy to instant, overnight leading movie star in 2014’s hilarious movie “Top Five”. Could funny woman Melissa McCarthy make a similar move from television (“Gilmore Girls” and “Mike & Molly”) to big screen headliner? We saw a glimpse of McCarthy’s serious acting chops in last year’s dramedy “St Vincent”, a smashing movie performance opposite Bill Murray’s eccentric character. Introduced to most of us in 2011’s hilarious “Bridesmaids”, the former high school cheerleader has since co-starred, but never held, the top billing in a comedy of her own. Until now.
For “Spy”, McCarthy carries this movie on her back using perfectly timed slapstick comedy and never taking herself or the film’s lightweight plot too seriously. Teamed up once again with director Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids”, “The Heat”), McCarthy returns to her comedy roots in this whimsical spoof on our Central Intelligence Agency’s clandestine operations.
As CIA analyst Susan Cooper, McCarthy ventures out into the undercover spook world in an attempt to thwart rogue arms dealers and protect her Langley associates. Nicely complimenting McCarthy’s tongue-and-cheek humor is a tuxedo-clad Jude Law in a passable tribute to Her Majesty’s 007. Fellow “Bridesmaids” cast member Rose Byrne ably rejoins McCarthy in “Spy” as the deadly daughter of a mob boss. But its former martial artist James Statham who easily earns the most laughs behind McCarthy once the final scorecard is tallied. Other crowd pleasers who bring smiles to viewers include former “West Wing” TV series’ spokeswoman Allison Janney as the CIA’s deputy director while Morena Baccarin, from Showtime’s “Homeland” series (Mrs Jessica Brody), stars as a seductive CIA operative.
Is “Spy” the funniest movie I’ve ever seen? No. Not by a longshot. But it does provide hysterical comparisons to the three stealthiest JB’s in the undercover biz: James Bond, Jason Bourne and Jack Bauer. If you’ve enjoyed the Austin Powers’ trilogy of spy parodies and can handle F-bombs tossed in every direction throughout, you’ll find this film’s physical comedy and witty presentation also agreeable.
No one in Hollywood has a better comedic game right now than Melissa McCarthy. “Spy” works because McCarthy can deliver laughs with a simple look, deadpan line or uncomfortable run/walk. The “Bridesmaids” alumnus has effortlessly transformed herself from Emmy winning television comedian into a bona fide motion picture headliner. While her cousin Jenny McCarthy may get the most double-takes from magazine photos, it’s this McCarthy that is sure-fire bet at the box office. Look for Melissa to continue her meteoric rise on the big screen well into 2016.
“Spy” is rated R for language throughout, violence and some sexual content, including brief graphic nudity. Running time is 1 hour and 57 minutes.
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