I just got to see the movie Spy on HBO. I was afraid it was going to be a fluffy “overweight ladies are beautiful too” romance pockmarked with an occasional joke or two. Happily, I was wrong.
I won’t go into the plot, as it doesn’t merit much attention. It’s a little reminiscent of Jumpin’ Jack Flash, only instead of working for a bank, the main character is barely tolerated by the CIA as an improbable techno-guide for downrange agents. Various silly circumstances put her in the field. It’s a comic fantasy with very few pretensions about being realistic, so you go in suspending your disbelief with a giant crane.
The cast is outstanding. Jason Statham is a loud, bumbling agent who exaggerates his exploits and has way, way too much testosterone. Jude Law is the handsome spy who can really do all the things Statham yells about. McCarthy is the competent but always-apologetic “computer fatty” nobody appreciates, and this is where the jokes really take off. You’d think the script would eventually fizzle out by emphasizing how everyone tramples all over this character, but this never happens. Instead, the jokes get funnier, even as she develops wildly unrealistic spy skills. The bad guys are funny. The tech gadgets are funny. Even the ultimate boss baddie is funny.
This last role is pulled off very skillfully by Rose Byrne, who puts as much energy into getting laughs as McCarthy. The only problem I saw was that Byrne looks too much like Salma Hayek. I spent half the movie convincing myself that Salma Hayek was an underappreciated comedienne (which she is, but that’s neither here nor there).
Right. Separated at birth, etc.
If you need a Melissa McCarthy scale, the movie is not as funny as The Heat but slightly funnier than Tammy.
You should see it just so you know what it’s like to convince yourself that Salma Hayek is in a movie when she’s not.