Now available on Google Play for cheap rental!
There’s a lot of funny stuff in Spy. Melissa McCarthy for sure, but a killer supporting cast take it over top and thankfully, McCarthy didn’t try and hog all the laughs. Nonetheless, this kind of story doesn’t exist without someone of McCarthy’s ilk like a Rosie O’Donnell, Roseanne Barr or cohort Rebel Wilson. What is that ilk, exactly? A fast talking, witty, smart, take no shit, overweight (but I don’t care), full of piss and vinegar woman in her 40s.
What does it take for an overweight woman in her 40’s to star in a Hollywood summer hit movie? Well, years before the moment happens, she has to put lid on her fears and insecurities and use everything she’s got to entertain her audience. In McCarthy’s case it means using her wit and smarts to make jokes about her looks, weight, and middle age, adding up to effectually portraying the most uncool characters that no one would want to be. It’s the unattractive, single Mom, the fat bridesmaid, the woman who’s social set is her flock of cats. She can’t fit into any cool clothes, her hair only ever looks dowdy, and she’s always fat. Make that character confident, smart, witty, and fearless and you have something entertaining. That’s McCarthy’s career for the most part as well as the bent of her character in Spy.
I didn’t bust a gut laughing as much as I expected or hoped but I did enjoy watching her every move. When she’s not killing it with a barrage of hysterical insults, it’s a low hum of funniness watching McCarthy do almost anything, even sitting in a chair or walking down the street – this kind of comedian wears the physical comedy at every moment – they are just funny to look at. Throw in a strong premise, decent script, awesome supporting characters, and hilarious over-the-top action sequences and you have something fun. Not enough can be said about the supporting characters played by Jude Law, Rose Byrne, Jason Statham, and Miranda Hart, making her Hollywood debut. Law does what he’s paid to do, obviously hired to phone in his signature charm. The other three all come busting out with their own brand of funniness, making Spy a refreshing tapestry of comedic style. Clearly, McCarthy supported and encouraged Hart, Statham and Byrne to go full tilt in their own way to entertain us and they succeed.
Hart’s character is a Brit version of McCarthy’s, trying to become as confident and fearless as McCarthy’s Cooper. This also happens to be something Hart and McCarthy had to do in order to make it in the entertainment world. It’s always interesting to see the real life challenges of the actors, making their way into the story. Hart, like McCarthy, has serious talents beneath the skin – smarts, wit, confidence, and fearlessness. Stand-up comedy isn’t for sissies. Overcoming insecurity and fear is how Cooper succeeds in Spy and I suspect how McCarthy and Hart persevered and made it to the top. Watching the two of them together, you can’t help have a feeling of ‘You go, girl!’ which, of course, is a strong theme of the story itself. Jason Statham amps up his role hilariously and I would guess had conversations with McCarthy about the value of making fun of yourself which Statham does beautifully, no doubt inspired by McCarthy’s fearlessness, allowing us to see his funny side. What does it take to get to the top? Be fearless!
McCarthy’s particular comedic signature is her riffing waterfall of poetic insults, intimidations, and threats. In a couple of sequences we get to see her go all out when she’s pretending to be a tough-as-nails bodyguard. She comes down verbally hard on Byrne’s character and her security guy. This is what McCarthy does best – flat out imaginative verbal assaults packaged in well-chosen words. She goes so far at one point, Byrne tells her back down and she admits, in character, it’s over the top – which is what makes these onslaughts of foul poetry so funny. I could listen to McCarthy abusively take the piss out people all day long.
We watched the unrated version on Google Play and I don’t think it added anything. There are some graphic and grisly details I could have done without and I suspect the fat was trimmed off a few of the scenes for the theatrical release, making it a better movie.