And we have a winner of the evening of comedy! Paul Feig got the better of Judd Apatow on this showdown (a competition I’m more or less inventing). His new comedy starring Melissa McCarthy as a CIA desk jockey-turned-field agent plays hard against the Bond film archetype and does it very well. This isn’t a completely new idea; Chuck did a great job on TV for years, and Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway turned in a good effort a few years back with Get Smart. But while Get Smart was a feature reboot of another series altogether, Spy seems to have particular sights for 007. The opening shot is a dramatic fly in on a romantic villa in Hungary where millionaire socialites and scheming villains drink martinis, and the music swells in a delightful Bond approximation. Heck, even the opening credits song is a faked Bond song.
The jig is actually pretty simple: at every turn, the movie looks to subvert expectations. The sexy, lone wolf agent? No, he’s got a housewife type giving him essential support to make him look like a badass. And then, of course, McCarthy cuts the other way as anything but the prototypical secret agent who nonetheless kicks serious ass. But most of all, it’s just a fun movie. An R-comedy for sure; but lots of fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and isn’t afraid to indulge in some very gag-y moments. These threaten to be a little overbearing at times, but never quite go that far.
McCarthy is great, but this is so much an ensemble film. Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale play vicious villains scheming to sell a portable nuclear device; Jason Statham and Peter Serafinowicz play CIA field agents, both ridiculous and implacable in hilarious and different ways; Allison Janney shows up as the humorless CIA director; Jude Law is the Bond-iest agent of them all, and the one McCarthy’s character is paired with; and Miranda Hart is fun as McCarthy’s best friend and fellow CIA desk staffer thrust unprepared into the field.
Spy hits theaters this June, and if you have any affinity for Bond or spy movies in general, this is an easy recommendation for a fun, boldfaced comedy that’s hitting on most cylinders.