There are some terrible films that you can watch while stuffed in a plane on long haul flights that can make you happy even while you know that under any other circumstances you wouldn’t be caught dead watching that kind of trash – you all know what I mean. “Spy”, however, the new, hilarious, Melissa McCarthy vehicle is not one of those sometimes acceptable horrors.
While I admit to having watched “Spy” on a plane, I am very happy to report that while, as the name overtly states, the film is indeed a spoof (it has to be with McCarthy in it) on the male dominated suave spy genre – the film is anything but a ‘let’s pass the interminable hours to my destination” kind of plane flick.
Written and directed by Peter Feig, who created the excellent but short-lived “Freaks and Geeks” in 1999 (which now has a cult following) and directed “Bridesmaids” (2011) and “The Heat” (2013) – both hit comedies starring female leads the likes of Kristen Wiig and Sandra Bullock (and of course McCarthy), “Spy” is a hilarious hybrid animal unto itself that cleverly subverts a genre without pulling its punches, and even more importantly, stepping too far over the edge by trying too hard to be funny.
McCarthy plays CIA analyst Susan Cooper, an unlikely CIA employee who guides her partner Agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law) from her desk while he goes on hyper covert missions involving life and death and, of course saving the world from apocalyptic destruction. The plot runs on normal spy film tropes involving deaths, double crosses and covert ops, all of which are over the top but with fairly hideous villains, causing viewers to become somewhat invested in their overthrow.
McCarthy of course makes it into the field, supported by a brilliantly talented cast of characters who will have you in stitches with their almost believable antics and ludicrous but highly enjoyable stunts which are really not too far removed from films like “Furious 7” - the Vin Diesel vehicle that delights in outdoing itself.
McCarthy herself, a brilliant comedienne is captivating as the hesitant, diffident Susan Cooper who transitions back and forth between self doubt, and fierce feistiness as she combats rampant sexism, pre-conceived biases about large women who work desk jobs and a world that claims to be a post-feminist one but is any thing but. So do not be one of those people that are ridiculed implicitly in the film and do make an effort to see “Spy” – it’ll have you in stitches and in a few years time you will be glad you got on the McCarthy bandwagon sooner than the rest of those doubters.