McCoy on Movies: Spy

McCoy on Movies: Spy

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“This is not the Vespa I requested!” Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) races to stop an arms dealer in a scene from writer/director Paul Feig’s new comedy SPY. Credit: Larry Horricks © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox. All Rights Reserved.


KEY CAST MEMBERS: Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Rose Byrne, Jason Statham, Allison Janey, Bobby Cannavale, Peter Serafinowicz, Morena Baccarin and Miranda Hart

WRITER(S): Paul Feig

DIRECTOR(S): Paul Feig
60 SECOND PLOT SUMMARY (OR AS CLOSE TO THAT TIME AS ONE CAN MAKE IT): An original piece written and directed by frequent McCarthy collaborator Paul Feig, Spy stars Melissa McCarthy as Susan Cooper, the eyes and ears that make CIA field agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law) the super spy he is. Of course, fellow agent Rick Ford (Jason Statham) believes there is no spy better than him given every grueling mission he’s survived, but that’s beside the point. 

In any case, Fine, Ford and all the rest of the main agents find themselves comprised when Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne), daughter of a nuclear arms dealer, makes all of their secret identities. With no one else available to go in to get close enough to see who she plans to sell the weapon to, Susan – who has trained but never actually worked as a field agent – volunteers much to the surprise of her boss Elaine (Allison Janey), the delight of her fellow eyes-and-ears co-worker Nancy (Miranda Hart) … and dismay of Ford, who may be prompted to take matters into his own hands.

May the best spy win. 

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? Melissa McCarthy fans; people who enjoyed the humor of Bridesmaids; people who only think Jason Statham is good for kicking and fighting people in movies; Jude Law fans; people who enjoy movies where women do not fall into any stereotypical roles and like story twists

WHO WONT (OR SHOULDN’T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? People who don’t like profanity; people who prefer male-driven comedy (a.k.a. those who don’t think women are funny)
SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL? Thanks to a surprisingly smart script and dedicated performances – including a comedic breakout one by the film’s British actors – Spy could be this summer’s sleeper hit comedy while doing the one thing it really needed to do: Prove there’s much more to Melissa McCarthy than jokes involving her weight (especially since she recently lost 50 pounds) and falling down.

Spy features a lot of things that, for whatever reason, you only get in about three-to-four comedies a year, those things being (1) a well written script that both parodies and honors the genre it is showcasing; (2) dedicated performances that never come off as silly despite the inherent humor they produce and (3) women featured in prominent roles in a comedy that doesn’t suffer because of or exploit the fact they are women. Nope, there is none of that in Spy. Instead, what you are pleasantly treated to is a character that is very self aware of how she is perceived and uses it to great effect to make her sympathetic and funny without ever being sad. McCarthy really puts a great amount of effort into her character to bring out a well-rounded (no pun intended) array of emotions, all of which bring about laughter. She emotes fear, sadness, confidence, quick-thinking, strength and sarcasm all without you ever questioning any of her decisions or motivations, which is the highest compliment I can pay a performance as strong as it is enjoyable. 

Of course, it certainly helps that McCarthy has a great bunch of actors to work with throughout the film. Statham plays against type so shockingly well it’s, well, shocking! His über-confident yet seemingly uncoordinated spy basically makes fun of everything the James Bond genre (yes, those spy movies are basically their own genre now) has come to be known for with true comedic aplomb while Peter Serafinowicz is equally hilarious playing the opposite end of the spectrum as an over-the-top lothario spy more interested in getting it on than getting the bad guy (or in this case, girl). 

Likewise, Byrne and Hart are deliver equally sharp turns in their roles as for every biting quip Byrne drops on McCarthy and those around her as a super-frustrated villainess, Hart has a genteel, lovingly awkward action in return. The other men in the cast aren’t left out in the fun, either. For Law plays the straight man perfectly at every turn to allow the humor to flow out at a natural pace, all of which works and works well and Cannavale equally plays the idea of a suave villain with a knowing wink and nod to the camera throughout the entire affair. Throw in a copious amount of humor arising from situations you (A) didn’t see coming and (B) wouldn’t expect to be so funny and Spy delivers from start to finish.

Hopefully, that secret won’t be one among audiences when it hits theaters this June. 


Columnist - Tabari McCoy is Cincy Chic's movie critic. An award-winning stand-up comedian who also works as the public relations director at Cincinnati Museum Center, Tabari McCoy is the creator of McCoy on Movies, a blog about movies for film fans. The blog is written by someone who also likes movies that is smart enough to know his opinion isn't always the right one but is willing to express that opinion in public. McCoy also used to review movies for his college paper and a major metropolitan publication, so that helps add to his "street cred." Contact him at You can also check out more of his work on his blog at and follow him on Twitter at @tabarimccoy.