Spy, the new action-comedy starring Melissa McCarthy as a CIA analyst-turned-agent, has more laughs per minute than any film this year thus far. Whether or not that’s a worthwhile metric is up to you, but if laughing your bladder dry is what you like doing at the movies, look no further. It opens everywhere this Thursday evening.
Just like in Bridesmaids and The Heat (both starring McCarthy and directed by Paul Feig) the jokes tend to get a little over the top, but rest assured that on balance, the humor is more fresh and more fun than anything you’ll see in Entourage.
I have not yet seen Entourage.
Here is Spy’s very simple premise: After top agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law, sporting an American accent) is apprehended in the field, mild-mannered, starry-eyed assistant Susan Cooper, who’s been head over heels for Fine since she emerged from agent training, volunteers to track and report the perps in Europe.
Despite the reservations of her colleagues and superiors, Cooper plunges into a cutthroat criminal network, deep-cover style. She’s forced to constantly change identities (the dowdy Midwestern personalities of whom are an ongoing gag), fight trained assassins and pursue fleeing vehicles on scooters.
In so doing, Cooper proves herself to be a clever, resourceful and kick-ass agent. Much like McCarthy herself. As an actress, she has refused to settle for either comedian or action star. She’s both, and she rocks.
Here’s what Melissa McCarthy is to me: the bombdotcom.
And speaking of action stars slash comedians, Jason Statham turns in hands down the funniest performance of his career as a rival agent smitten with his own past feats of derring-do.
It’s an absolute laugh riot with wonderfully strong female characters. And it now means that both the best action film of the year (Mad Max: Fury Road) and the funniest, if not quite the best, comedy of the year (Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young takes the cake in my book for now) feature women in multiple prominent roles.
This isn’t Tomb Raider, where a female lead is more or less a novelty item, a sultry, booby heroine tromping among a legion of equally one-dimensional dudes. Here, we’ve got a female CIA director (Allison Janney), a female sidekick (Call the Midwife’s Miranda Hart) and even a female villain (Rose Byrne).
Props to Feig for making women more than tokens in his consistently rowdy ensembles.
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