“You really think you’re ready for the field? I once used defibrillators on myself. I put shards of glass in my fuckin’ eye. I’ve jumped from a high-rise building using only a raincoat as a parachute and broke both legs upon landing; I still had to pretend I was in a fucking Cirque du Soleil show! I’ve swallowed enough microchips and shit them back out again to make a computer. This arm has been ripped off completely and re-attached with this fuckin’ arm.”
With Bridesmaids, Paul Feig made one of the funniest movies of the last decade. Yet, with all that goodwill, it still took me a long time to get around to watching The Heat. And it turns out, with The Heat, Paul Feig made another really funny movie. The premise was bigger and broader, but he proved to be up to the task of combining comedy and action. So this time around, when Feig had another movie in the cinemas, I put my reservations about the seemingly goofy premise aside, and was quick to see Spy.
While handsome CIA spy and man of mystery Bradley Fine (Jude Law) gets to wear the tux and infiltrate the high society parties of international super villains, his desk bound partner, Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) does just as much work while receiving none of the glory. But when Fine is shot and it’s revealed that the real identities of every major CIA spy has been revealed to the bad guys, Susan’s anonymity becomes an asset.
Much to the chagrin of super spy Rick Ford (Jason Statham), Susan is chosen to go into the field to track down some missing nukes. With Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne) in her sights, and the lascivious Italian Aldo (Peter Serafinowicz) as her ally, Susan goes after Sergio De Luca (Bobby Cannavale). Then it’s a globe trotting adventure of intrigue and action as Susan takes on the bad guys, while proving she’s up to the task of taking on bad guys.
Here’s the thing about Spy, Paul Feig has made a proper, actual spy movie. There are gadgets, and action, and shoot outs and plenty of really cool set pieces. But the problem is, all of that spy and action stuff leaves very little room for Spy to be funny. It made me laugh more than few times, but they were individual moments that were basically just standalone, random jokes. They were jokes in spite of the movie, not a part of it.
There was one unexpected aspect of Spy though that I really liked. Susan isn’t an inept character who succeeds despite her ineptitude. There’s no dumb luck or hilarious misunderstandings that lead to unlikely victories. Susan is a smart, capable character who succeeds because she’s smart and capable.
While I love Ghostbusters, the news of Paul Feig making an all women reboot, starring McCarthy hasn’t really made me care either way. I know he’s a good enough writer and director that it won’t be terrible. I just don’t think it needs to exist. The ho-hum blandness of Spy makes my anticipation of the new Ghostbusters even more ambivalent.