The way that my friends speak, they seem rather questionable to the idea of a woman playing James Bond. They seem to have no problem with changing the race or ethnicity of the famous hero, but when I brought up the idea of a woman taking over, their first response was to shiver and say quietly, “…I don’t know about a female Bond”. At first I thought that they were taking an anti-feminist stance against such an idea. Would it not be possible for a woman spy to infiltrate a terrorist hideout or seduce an enemy agent to get information? I’ve always felt so.
Today’s movie Spy is all about playing up the joke that a woman is becoming a spy. Had they picked a Scarlett Johansson or an Angelina Jolie, then most people would have responded that female spies have already been done and that at lest in cinematic terms, we’ve been holding back more then were worth. Luckily, director Paul Feig was smart to cast someone who was even less likely to even qualify as a spy, Melissa McCarthy (a veteran of his previous films Bridesmaids and The Heat). Spy has it’s mystery and laughs ready to go, but does it manage to mix it well?
Susan Cooper (played by Melissa McCarthy) is a former teacher who enrolled in the CIA hoping to change her life and make it more exciting. She’s saddled with a desk job as an analyst to work behind the scenes for her friend field agent, Bradley Fine (played by Jude Law) whose more of the typical James Bond-like spy that Cooper wishes she could be. A failed mission results in Fine having to sneak into the home of Rayna Boyanov (played by Rose Byrne) to retrieve information on the location of a nuke bomb. This too ends in failure as Fine is supposedly shot to death.
Not only is her friend dead, but her boss Elaine Crocker (played by Alison Janney) reveals that Rayna already knows most of the identities of the top field agents. Seeing that no one would suspect her, Cooper volunteers to become a field agent. This doesn’t suit well with the other hotshot (not to mention hothead) agent Rick Ford (played by Jason Statham), but Cooper is assigned to go to Europe to go after Rayna. Cooper manages to get in deeper with Rayna and her colleagues much more with her friendly, but intimidating attitude and just might pull off a successful mission.
Spy is a lot like Bridesmaids and The Heat; all three have Mellissa McCarthy playing a big part and put this woman in a position that would usually be played by the goofy man. My fear was that McCarthy would play the same crass woman that I’ve seen before, but that does not seem to be the case for Spy. She’s more of an unappreciated underdog who also happens to be good at what she’s doing. It may have taken me a couple of movies but McCarthy has finally proved me a funny comedian.
What makes Spy work is that this isn’t just McCarthy’s spotlight; Everyone gets some good scene-stealers (my favorite being Jason Statham constantly ranting about his nearly impossible stunts). Is it as masterful as Bridesmaids? No as this film stumbles into it’s own problem of stopping the story to tell more jokes. Why couldn’t most of the jokes progress the story? Oh well, it doesn’t totally dampen this movie. As far as spy movies go, this plays off of every spy movie cliché from the animated intro with a sexy song to the exotic locations and high tech gadgets. Spy balances on the line between comedy and full blowm satire.
I’ll give this four scooters with roofs out of five. I laughed harder for Spy then I did for the Heat, though not as much as Bridesmaids. Perhaps Paul Feig might want to consider branching out into other fields of comedy as not to remain predictable. For what it is, I’d say that Spy is a mission to go!.