Posted on June 4, 2015 at 5:44 pmB+
|Lowest Recommended Age:||Mature High Schooler|
|MPAA Rating:||Rated R for language throughout, violence, and some sexual content including brief graphic nudity|
|Profanity:||Very strong and crude language|
|Violence/ Scariness:||Extensive action-style violence, some disturbing images, characters injured and killed|
|Diversity Issues:||A theme of the movie|
|Date Released to Theaters:||June 5, 2015|
|Date Released to DVD:||September 8, 2015|
It is time to celebrate. Melissa McCarthy finally has the movie role she deserves. Writer/director Paul Feig, who directed her in “Bridesmaids” and “The Heat” has wisely given her center stage and allowed her to be quirky and awkward, which we knew she could do, and improvise crazy lines and scenarios, which we also knew she could do, but also let her play someone who is extremely capable and loyal, smart, brave, and completely captivating, which we always knew she could do, but rarely got to see more than a hint of it.
Feig does not just thoroughly understand the genre he is shredding. He clearly loves it. All of the classic spy movie necessities are there, a sultry song over the opening credits, impeccable tailoring, a beautiful car, fine wine, pretty girls, chases and shootouts, cool gadgets, glamorous world capitals, a formal high society party with tons of security that must be breached, a club scene with EDM, betrayal by a trusted insider, an evil megalomaniacal villain, and — of course — the fate of the entire world depending on our secret agent with a license to kill saving the day. Dippold avoids the usual spoof go-to “jokes” of incompetence, slapstick, and instantly-old cultural references, allowing the characters to take the stakes and the relationships seriously enough so that the comedy is honestly earned and all the funnier for it. It is genuinely refreshing to see women as not just hero and villain but also as hero’s boss and her best friend. The male stars are excellent, especially Jude Law and Jason Statham, who get to riff on their own leading man images as well as larger-scale action hero conventions. But the ladies are in charge here, and they are killing it. Imaging Miss Moneypenny and Pussy Galore plus Dame Judi Dench as M running the show, with Bond as eye candy.
McCarthy plays Susan Cooper, a teacher turned desk agent for the CIA. As super-cool Bradley Fine (Law) tosses off a glass of champagne, pausing to admire the crystal flute glass before smashing it and sneaking out to find the super-powerful, super-compact bomb, Susan is talking through his earpiece, letting him know which way to turn through the labyrinthian tunnels every self-respecting bad guy has to have under the elegant party going on up above, and which direction the henchmen are coming from. He is fond but patronizing. She is capable but a bit fluttery and insecure.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of pollen in the air and Bradley sneezes at the wrong time, accidentally making his gun go off and killing the bad guy. Also unfortunately, the bad guy’s successor, his daughter Rayna (Byrne, with what looks like several dead animals hiding in her hideous hairdo), has access to the names of all of the current field agents. With no alternative, the humorless CIA deputy director (Janney) sends Susan out into the field, just to track and report, not to engage. Susan is nervous but excited, though disappointed when she receives her cover. No sophisticated bespoke attire and fancy hotel rooms. She will be a dowdy, nondescript woman with a very bad perm.
She doesn’t get the cool hoverboard from the Q-equivalent. She gets weaponized versions of the things a woman like her cover identity would have in her purse. And her cover involves hilariously tacky wardrobe and a disastrous perm-looking wig. Of course she soon abandons the “no engagement” part. A rogue agent (Statham) trying to find the bomb on his own mostly gets in the way. But she relies on her excellent observational powers, quick thinking, and some mad skillz in hand-to-hand combat, even if killing a guy grosses her out. And she gets some help from her best friend Nancy (the wildly funny Miranda Hart).
It is exciting, funny, and even heartwarming. And best of all, there’s a hint at the end of a possible sequel. More Susan Cooper, please, and lots and lots more McCarthy.
Parents should know that this film includes very strong and crude language, sexual references, sexual humor, and non-explicit sexual situations, graphic nudity, extensive violence with some graphic and disturbing images, and characters injured and killed.
Family discussion: What do you think it takes to be a great spy? If you were going undercover, what would your name be?
If you like this, try: “Get Smart,” “Bridesmaids,” and “The Heat”