Spy

Posted on June 4, 2015 at 5:44 pm

B+
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
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking
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
Amazon.com ASIN: B00YWE6LXK
Copyright 2015 Twentieth Century Fox
Copyright 2015 Twentieth Century Fox

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”

Related Tags:

 

Action/Adventure Comedy DVD/Blu-Ray Pick of the Week Spies

9 Replies to “Spy”

  1. Wondered what you thought of this movie. B+ is about right. I thought the first half of the movie rated an A and the second half a B. Once Susan Cooper morphed into a ninja-kicking, profanity spewing, loudmouth spy then endless chases, fights and confusing plot twists took the place of cleverness, originality and wit.

    1. Thanks, Big Dave. i can’t help wondering if some of the grosser/more violent parts were added because the studio did not trust the comedy to sell enough tickets.

  2. “Spy” had its moments, thanks to the talent of Melissa McCarthy, but there weren’t many belly laughs coming from the audience. As comedies go, I’d give it a C at best. It just wasn’t that good. I thought all the profanity was nothing but a distraction. An overkill of foul language in any movie might score with the high school set, but it always makes me think its real purpose is to hide a lack of substance.

  3. There was no nudity whatsoever in this film. ZERO. Why do you say “graphic nudity” in the text, and “very explicit nudity” in the summary legend??? I actually watched a second time to be sure, because I was stunned by your assertions. EVERYONE is FULLY clothed the entire time. The only skin seen is some women’s shoulders in cocktail dresses at formal events. And Jude Law in an undershirt after he takes a bullet to the shoulder and is in a bandage and sling. Every other scene is fully attired.

  4. I thought the movie was really weighted down by all the negative male stereotypes. I say that because EVERY man in the movie was some combination of overconfident, stupid, (totally) controlled by sexual urges, or maliciously holding the ladies back – and I’m talking about the good guys. I know what they are trying to do, but isn’t it more empowering to see women succeed against (or with) smart, competent men? Isn’t it nicer? It was a monotonous theme that never let up, and it felt a little insecure in the end.

    The movie shines when Susan is outsmarting her enemies. My favorite part is early on where she starts speaking french(?) with a man on the street. It’s a small moment, but it lets us gain confidence in her, before she does in herself. It’s like watching a child riding a bike who thinks their parent is still holding on.

    Drop the stereotypes and the uber-stupid ‘graphic nudity’ and I might like this.

    1. Thanks for a thoughtful comment, Elman. I can understand how it came across that way to you and made the film less appealing. To me, all of the characters were flawed (for comic effect), but the male spies working for the CIA were all capable and loyal. If the men are less capable and fully fleshed out than the women, perhaps that is a reflection of the many, many comic films that are slanted the other way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

THE MOVIE MOM® is a registered trademark of Nell Minow. Use of the mark without express consent from Nell Minow constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition in violation of federal and state laws. All material © Nell Minow 1995-2019, all rights reserved, and no use or republication is permitted without explicit permission. This site hosts Nell Minow’s Movie Mom® archive, with material that originally appeared on Yahoo! Movies, Beliefnet, and other sources. Much of her new material can be found at Rogerebert.com, Huffington Post, and WheretoWatch. Her books include The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies and 101 Must-See Movie Moments, and she can be heard each week on radio stations across the country.

Website Designed by Max LaZebnik