Spy

Stereotype-breaking comedic awesomeness!


Spy

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Miranda Hart
Directed by: Paul Feig

Consensus: 4 Stars
Impressive!


Rated

R

Starring

Melissa McCarthy
Miranda Hart
Rose Byrne
Jason Statham
Jude Law
Allison Janney
Nargis Fakhri

Written by

Paul Feig

Directed by

Paul Feig


What to Expect

After St. Vincent, I guess we all wanted Melissa McCarthy to follow up with an equally strong (if not stronger) role with her next film. And as Spy came along, with it sent excellent, excellent vibes.

Of course, the wounds of Tammy may still be fresh for the skeptic few.

But the good thing about that front is that this particular film is helmed by writer-director Paul Feig, who’s almost always been a fan of showing women as some of the most vivid characters on screen, without as much as an inkling of shying away from the situation, exemplified clearly by his past offers in the form of The Heat and Bridesmaids.

Giving it a try, for me, thus was a done deal. it was just to be seen if the movie lived up to my mammoth expectations of it, or sent them crashing down.

What’s it About?

Good-hearted and resourceful CIA-analyst Susan Cooper (McCarthy) is disappointed with her rather stale job being “inside the ear” of active agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law; Closer). When Fine’s shot to death, however, and a new turn of events compromises the identities of every other active agent on the grid, Susan finds herself throttled into the adventure she’s always been waiting for all her life.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Homophobic aunt it is.

Homophobic aunt it is.

One of the biggest issues I’ve had with post-Bridesmaids McCarthy is how regressively typecast she was getting as the callous loser who “finds her way out” of things by the end of the film. This, in comparison to the rather wide array of performative success she’s had in the form of television’s Gilmore Girls and the John August directed The Nines (these being just a few of the many other winning roles), definitely provided an edge. A repeated use of an edge, however, will have definitely seen a good amount of wear-and-tear now, won’t it have?

This is where Feig comes back with Spy, proving that he can effectively portray McCarthy as a consistent stereotype breaker with each of his films. Sure, her character is introduced as an awkward, stumbling individual at first, but there’s a lot more than just that. Susan Cooper is more of an individual with exceedingly normal humane emotions. Put that aside, and you’ve got some extra detailing in her sketch; she’s an extremely resourceful employee, who – to be extremely classless while pointing this out – knows her shit. Yes, she doesn’t fit the now popular stereotype of female agents, but through the later stages of the film, you’re introduced to the kind of things she’s extremely capable of.

One might argue that the classic McCarthy badassery still exists, and I’d have to agree with that, adding, however, that it does for good reason. She’s an extremely fast thinker, robust at defending, shooting and combatting, and of course, is a person; a human being. Like everyone else who exists in this world. Despite how exceedingly resourceful she’s made out to be, Feig’s ensured within his screenplay that she’s relatable to everyone out there who’s dreamt of being something in life, with their only obstacles being judgmental humans around them.

Bring it ON!

Bring it ON!

More importantly, what Feig’s managed to do with absolute success is the portrayal of women as strong characters, matching up to the men in (a rather insanely hilarious spin on) a genre that’s always relied simply on the charms of its men, relegating the women mostly on the backburner. Feig, in fact, goes a step ahead, deliberately and teasingly swap roles, this time with brilliantly timed results. While McCarthy’s Susan is a winner all the way indeed, there’s a host of other women who take the cake equally. Miranda Hart’s Nancy, Allison Janney’s Elaine Crocker, and Rose Byrne’s Rayna are equally brilliant characters in writing, given an extremely wide platform to cover. Hell, even the more glamorous cameos in the form of Monica Baccarin and Nargis Fakhri are on-point for their referential .

But the fact that it’s strongly (and respectably) feminist isn’t the only reason I’m supporting the film wholeheartedly. Feig, the adept writer and director that he is in the field of comedy, induces some of the most genuine humor I’ve seen in any film in a while. With some fantastic comedic references to pop-culture stereotypes in spy films (watch out for the inherently Bond-like opening titles; electrifying original theme song et al) kept in perfect check, there are also some exceedingly intelligent references (Dickens; no kidding) that take you by surprise through the film’s runtime. Add to that Robert Yeoman’s (The Grand Budapest Hotel) superior cinematography and camerawork, with edit decisions by Dean Zimmerman and Don Zimmerman (The Maze Runner) that don’t water down the impact the action choreography creates on screen, and you have a winner there. Theodore Shapiro (One Chance) clearly seems to be having fun jabbing referential motifs into his soundtrack to the film. And last, but not the least, the slick production design, for a change, really helps continue the rather smart charade the makers are pulling off.

To Perform or Not to Perform

The Bold and the Beautiful

The Bold and the Beautiful

Melissa McCarthy, as I’ve mentioned previously, and in my honest opinion, is a bundle of talent, who doesn’t just stop there. Her choice of headstrong roles, and her stand against women being stereotyped in the industry is an extremely commendable move that I personally respect. It is, however, her performative strength in this film that completely blew me away. She’s adhered to the right mixture of docile and badass, mixing up her extremely dynamic strengths into an impressive role that demands moves in combat that she makes. Impressively.

Coming in at a close second is Rose Byrne, who unsurprisingly delivers a terrific performance as the hardened-on-the-outside femme-fatale who surprisingly has more layers than your normal trope character would. She nails each and every smoldering expression, delivering her dialogue with sheer purpose and giving in a surprising heart to the antagonist like no other.

Among the support-system, there’s Jason Statham who’s the biggest surprise here. His comic timing on point, you’re reminded of the good-ol’ first half of his career he was actively experimenting (Snatch) before he turned to taking an exceedingly similar pattern of roles in its latter half. Jude Law comes hilariously close to delivering a parodic version of the arrogant-womanizing-secret-agent trope we’ve all come to know of. Miranda Hart and Allison Janney pull off brilliance by turning unpretentiously into the characters they’re imbibing, inevitably owning them. Bobby Cannavale is fantastic. Björn Gustafsson pulls off his role with very succinct comic timing. Nargis Fakhri and Morena Baccarin deliver efficient cameo performances.

And then there’s 50 Cent. Who’s 50 Cent. No, really.

Worth it?

Spy is a movie I was expecting a hell lot from. But the thing is, Spy doesn’t deliver on my expectations of it.

(drumroll)

It kinda-sorta exceeds them, to everyone’s surprise.

(applause)

The comedy kicks serious butt, with each one-liner delivered with razor-sharp timing, performed to the hilt by the impressive cast of characters it holds. That being said, it – additionally – also pitches in a surprisingly progressive commentary on the state of action and espionage movies relying heavily on forced gender stereotypes, simultaneously breaking each of them with class as the film moves forward. And as far as the action is concerned (it is, after all, a spy movie, bejeezus!), the audience needn’t worry at all, cause they’re going to be treated with some surprisingly commendable defense, chases and combats throughout the film.

In short, Spy is that action comedy with a surprisingly strong subtext that has something for absolutely everyone who’s going in for some fantastic entertainment. Which this film definitely is. Strongly recommended.

Consensus: 4 Stars
Impressive!
About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

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What to Expect

After St. Vincent, I guess we all wanted Melissa McCarthy to follow up with an equally strong (if not stronger) role with her next film. And as Spy came along, with it sent excellent, excellent vibes.

Of course, the wounds of Tammy may still be fresh for the skeptic few.

But the good thing about that front is that this particular film is helmed by writer-director Paul Feig, who’s almost always been a fan of showing women as some of the most vivid characters on screen, without as much as an inkling of shying away from the situation, exemplified clearly by his past offers in the form of The Heat and Bridesmaids.

Giving it a try, for me, thus was a done deal. it was just to be seen if the movie lived up to my mammoth expectations of it, or sent them crashing down.

What’s it About?

Good-hearted and resourceful CIA-analyst Susan Cooper (McCarthy) is disappointed with her rather stale job being “inside the ear” of active agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law; Closer). When Fine’s shot to death, however, and a new turn of events compromises the identities of every other active agent on the grid, Susan finds herself throttled into the adventure she’s always been waiting for all her life.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

One of the biggest issues I’ve had with post-BridesmaidsMcCarthy is how regressively typecast she was getting as the callous loser who “finds her way out” of things by the end of the film. This, in comparison to the rather wide array of performative success she’s had in the form of television’s Gilmore Girls and the John August directed The Nines (these being just a few of the many other winning roles), definitely provided an edge. A repeated use of an edge, however, will have definitely seen a good amount of wear-and-tear now, won’t it have?

This is where Feig comes back with Spy, proving that he can effectively portray McCarthy as a consistent stereotype breaker with each of his films. Sure, her character is introduced as an awkward, stumbling individual at first, but there’s a lot more than just that. Susan Cooper is more of an individual with exceedingly normal humane emotions. Put that aside, and you’ve got some extra detailing in her sketch; she’s an extremely resourceful employee, who – to be extremely classless while pointing this out – knows her shit. Yes, she doesn’t fit the now popular stereotype of female agents, but through the later stages of the film, you’re introduced to the kind of things she’s extremely capable of.

One might argue that the classic McCarthy badassery still exists, and I’d have to agree with that, adding, however, that it does for good reason. She’s an extremely fast thinker, robust at defending, shooting and combatting, and of course, is a person; a human being. Like everyone else who exists in this world. Despite how exceedingly resourceful she’s made out to be, Feig’s ensured within his screenplay that she’s relatable to everyone out there who’s dreamt of being something in life, with their only obstacles being judgmental humans around them.

More importantly, what Feig’s managed to do with absolute success is the portrayal of women as strong characters, matching up to the men in (a rather insanely hilarious spin on) a genre that’s always relied simply on the charms of its men, relegating the women mostly on the backburner. Feig, in fact, goes a step ahead, deliberately and teasingly swap roles, this time with brilliantly timed results. While McCarthy’s Susan is a winner all the way indeed, there’s a host of other women who take the cake equally. Miranda Hart’s Nancy, Allison Janney’s Elaine Crocker, and Rose Byrne’s Rayna are equally brilliant characters in writing, given an extremely wide platform to cover. Hell, even the more glamorous cameos in the form of Monica Baccarin and Nargis Fakhri are on-point for their referential .

But the fact that it’s strongly (and respectably) feminist isn’t the only reason I’m supporting the film wholeheartedly. Feig, the adept writer and director that he is in the field of comedy, induces some of the most genuine humor I’ve seen in any film in a while. With some fantastic comedic references to pop-culture stereotypes in spy films (watch out for the inherently Bond-like opening titles; electrifying original theme song et al) kept in perfect check, there are also some exceedingly intelligent references (Dickens; no kidding) that take you by surprise through the film’s runtime. Add to that Robert Yeoman’s (The Grand Budapest Hotel) superior cinematography and camerawork, with edit decisions by Dean Zimmerman and Don Zimmerman (The Maze Runner) that don’t water down the impact the action choreography creates on screen, and you have a winner there. Theodore Shapiro (One Chance) clearly seems to be having fun jabbing referential motifs into his soundtrack to the film. And last, but not the least, the slick production design, for a change, really helps continue the rather smart charade the makers are pulling off.

To Perform or Not to Perform

Melissa McCarthy, as I’ve mentioned previously, and in my honest opinion, is a bundle of talent, who doesn’t just stop there. Her choice of headstrong roles, and her stand against women being stereotyped in the industry is an extremely commendable move that I personally respect. It is, however, her performative strength in this film that completely blew me away. She’s adhered to the right mixture of docile and badass, mixing up her extremely dynamic strengths into an impressive role that demands moves in combat that she makes. Impressively.

Coming in at a close second is Rose Byrne, who unsurprisingly delivers a terrific performance as the hardened-on-the-outside femme-fatale who surprisingly has more layers than your normal trope character would. She nails each and every smoldering expression, delivering her dialogue with sheer purpose and giving in a surprising heart to the antagonist like no other.

Among the support-system, there’s Jason Statham who’s the biggest surprise here. His comic timing on point, you’re reminded of the good-ol’ first half of his career he was actively experimenting (Snatch) before he turned to taking an exceedingly similar pattern of roles in its latter half. Jude Law comes hilariously close to delivering a parodic version of the arrogant-womanizing-secret-agent trope we’ve all come to know of. Miranda Hart and Allison Janney pull off brilliance by turning unpretentiously into the characters they’re imbibing, inevitably owning them. Bobby Cannavale is fantastic. Björn Gustafsson pulls off his role with very succinct comic timing. Nargis Fakhri and Morena Baccarin deliver efficient cameo performances.

And then there’s 50 Cent. Who’s 50 Cent. No, really.

Worth it?

Spy is a movie I was expecting a hell lot from. But the thing is, Spy doesn’t deliver on my expectations of it.

(drumroll)

It kinda-sorta exceeds them, to everyone’s surprise.

(applause)

The comedy kicks serious butt, with each one-liner delivered with razor-sharp timing, performed to the hilt by the impressive cast of characters it holds. That being said, it – additionally – also pitches in a surprisingly progressive commentary on the state of action and espionage movies relying heavily on forced gender stereotypes, simultaneously breaking each of them with class as the film moves forward. And as far as the action is concerned (it is, after all, a spy movie, bejeezus!), the audience needn’t worry at all, cause they’re going to be treated with some surprisingly commendable defense, chases and combats throughout the film.

In short, Spy is that action comedy with a surprisingly strong subtext that has something for absolutely everyone who’s going in for some fantastic entertainment. Which this film definitely is. Strongly recommended.

About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

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