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article imageReview: Nothing secret about ‘Spy’s witty humour Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jun 5, 2015 in Entertainment
‘Spy’ exceeds expectations and delivers a hilarious comedy that transcends baser humour for a witty, entertaining experience.
The world of espionage is rife with possibilities for smooth and charming agents, but it also has the potential for sharp humour. The latter can be a bit dicey in terms of quality, particularly depending on the type of comedy used — too many pratfalls, bathroom jokes or forced wit can rapidly drag a movie down. There are prominent examples of good and bad films, so Spy had a 50/50 chance of being genuinely entertaining (or alternatively, absolute torture).
Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) and Bradley Fine (Jude Law) were the best paired team at the CIA. He was the physical presence, deployed on top secret, dangerous missions around the world; she was his eyes and ears at headquarters, alerting him to threats and escape routes. And that’s saying nothing of her undisclosed affections for him. So when Fine is suddenly killed in the line of duty by a female arms dealer (Rose Byrne) and the covers of the organization’s other agents are blown, Susan volunteers to go undercover, find his killer and expose the location of a nuclear bomb. With her homely identity in place, Susan steps into the field for the first time — and she isn’t coming out until the job’s done.
Writer/director Paul Feig has repeatedly demonstrated a partiality for strong, leading female characters. Helming Bridesmaids a few years ago put him at the head of this genre and launched a series of comedies featuring women. Another key aspect of these pictures is casting women in traditionally male roles. In this case, most of the men are relegated to sidekick status as the very capable and funny ladies lead the charge. In fact all the men are literally dismissed in the first act; though Jason Statham’s character, Rick Ford, has trouble staying on the sidelines.
One of the main concerns going into this movie was its depiction of McCarthy. The last thing audiences needed was a female version of Paul Blart: Mall Cop. While Susan is somewhat unrefined, she’s very intelligent, adept in physical and mental strategies, and quick on her feet (thankfully most plus-size jokes are shunned). However that doesn’t stop other characters from pigeon-holing her: her undercover personalities include drab attire, cats and awful perms; Ford insists she’s not up to the task; and their version of Q hides all her covert gadgets in embarrassing personal care products.
The humour is seamless and natural, developing organically from any given scene. It’s almost never forced or inappropriate. Although Statham is not known for comedic performances, he is excellent as the less-than-smooth secret agent consistently requiring a bailout via his female rival. Byrne is an excellent criminal mastermind, playing a severe yet amusing villain who says what’s on her mind. And McCarthy is brilliant in whatever role she’s required to play throughout the narrative, from lonely cat lady to kickass bodyguard.
This movie exceeds expectations as a fun, laugh-out-loud comedy that returns Feig to respectable heights and lends favour to his upcoming reboot of Ghostbusters.
Director: Paul Feig
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne and Jason Statham
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