Movie Review: ‘SPY’ – Goldfinger’d


Courtney Howard // Film Critic

SPY |  119 min  | R
Director: Paul Feig
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Jude Law and Jason Statham

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We open on a luxurious European mansion holding a black tie party. There are villains afoot and a suave spy is on the prowl to intercept a delivery of weapons. Gunfire rings out as the super-sleuth expertly dispatches his foes and escapes on a speedboat. We then transition to a stylish opening-credits sequence with sexy, shooting silhouettes and a crooning Shirley Bassey sound-a-like. Is this the new James Bond film? No, because there are also pratfalls involving bats and rat droppings. This is writer-director Paul Feig’s raucous riot, SPY. Going beyond “spoof” territory, it’s an R-rated action-comedy that’s all kinds of wonderful and hilarious. More of this forever, please.

Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is a lowly desk jockey at the CIA. She has a very particular set of skills and a crippling case of low self-esteem. She’s debonair field agent Bradley Fine’s (Jude Law) handler and our junior high self, flirting with the cute boy who barely notices her. However, things drastically change when Bradley is murdered and the identities of all the other top agents – including tough-as-nails Rick Ford (Jason Statham) – are compromised. Now spy boss Elaine Crocker (Allison Janney) needs an uncompromised agent to track and report on a suspected nuclear weapons deal between rude Bulgarian villianess Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne, who takes hurling insults to a new comedic level) and power-hungry Sergio De Luca (Bobby Cannavale). Since she’s unknown to the baddies, Susan volunteers to go into the field for the first time. With her overly competitive colleague Ford nipping at her heels, she’s got to rediscover latent talents – and her confidence – in order to save the world. All in a day’s work, right?

Left to Right. Rose Byrne, Mellisa McCarthy & Zach Woods. (Photo Courtesy Of 20th Century Fox)

L-R, Rose Byrne, Mellisa McCarthy & Zach Woods. Photo Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

Not only does Feig has a great sense of comedic timing, never letting scenes overstay their welcome, he also can shoot action in a clever way – perfectly paced and edited coherently. Goodbye shaky cam genericness and hello polished style! It’s also a relief that the humor isn’t cheap fat jokes. Blessedly, there’s none of that here. From the makeshift “Q” (Michael McDonald) who stocks her purse with embarrassing items like toe fungus spray and hemorrhoid wipes, to Rayna insulting Susan’s sleek designer wardrobe, the joke’s really on those who perceive her to be a dumpy mess. It’s a delight to see her self-assurance build during each undercover assignment. Statham earns just as many laughs as Susan’s antagonist, doing a spot-on send up of his intense action-hero persona. McCarthy, who’s always a treasure in everything, is a revelation as a bad-ass action heroine. She’s smart, sassy and skilled. Plus, it’s also fun to see supporting cast members from Feig’s previous comedy ventures THE HEAT and BRIDESMAIDS (such as Jessica Chaffin, Katie Dippold, Jamie Denbo, Zach Woods and Mitch Silpa) pop up here.

In an age where we’ve seen everything from 1967’s CASINO ROYALE, to the AUSTIN POWERS franchise, to KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE, it’s clear that putting a fresh comedic spin on the genre takes ingenuity, craft and care. SPY succeeds by taking the spy and action parts seriously while filling the caper with hilarious characters, lewd pratfalls and instantly quotable quips. Hopefully Feig and McCarthy turn this into a franchise. It’s the comedy BRIDESMAIDS fans have been waiting for, but the laughs are very equal-opportunity.

SPY is available on DVD/ Blu-ray today.

The Blu-ray Combo Pack includes:

  • Unrated and R-Rated Cuts
  • 3 Redacted Scenes
  • 15 Classified Alternate Scenes
  • Top Secret Gag Reel
  • Extra Top Secret Behind-the-Scenes Gag Reel
  • Director of Intelligence Feig Makes the Cast Do His Bidding
  • Susan and Her Men
  • Super Villain Rayna Can’t Keep it Together
  • Super Vermin
  • The Many Deaths of Anton
  • The Trouble With Covers
  • The Great Rick Ford
  • For Your Eyes Only: Jokes-A-Plenty
  • The Handsy World of Spies
  • Speaking is an Art Form
  • Super Villains of the Animal World
  • How Spy Was Made – 8 Behind the Scenes Featurettes
  • Gallery
  • The Filmmakers Tell You How Spy Was Made While You Watch The Movie! aka The Commentary Track (Jessie Henderson, John Vecchio, Paul Feig, Robert Yeoman, Walter Garcia)

The DVD includes:

  • Top Secret Gag Reel
  • Extra Top Secret Behind-the-Scenes Gag Reel
  • Susan and Her Men
  • The Great Rick Ford
  • Gallery
  • Commentary Track (Jessie Henderson, John Vecchio, Paul Feig, Robert Yeoman, Walter Garcia)
About author

Courtney Howard

Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, CCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.