I had an opportunity to see a preview of the Paul Feig/Melissa McCarthy comedy Spy (it will be in theaters June 5th); thanks GoFoBo! So, I’ll give you the quick and dirty and then dive into a few reasons leading to my conclusions: this movie is laugh out loud. It is laugh out loud from beginning to the end. It does not simply rely on cheap humor, though there’s plenty of that to go around; it has story, witty banter and it even has some heart. This would certainly be one of my favorite comedies of the year were it not marred by such intense foul language and sexual innuendo going beyond what’s needed for humor. (I understand that this is relatively tame for Ms. McCarthy but it is beyond the pale for me.) I am quite convinced that, were all of that toned down, the humor would’ve stood out just as well. Indeed, the first part of the movie is comparatively mild in all these respects but once an event happens (which I won’t go into due to spoilers) the floodgates fully open up. I get that I sound a little like Captain America upbraiding Ironman for “language,” but not only could it have been just as funny, a PG-13 rating could have given it a wider audience.
Now for the bit more detail. The cast is brilliant. I’m not a large fan of either Paul Feig or Melissa McCarthy (I haven’t seen The Heat), I can be embarrassed by too much physical comedy, yet they work really well on this film. Jude Law plays an American but plays a role he knows so well. Jason Statham plays a caricature of his normal roles on testosterone festooned steroids and is hilarious in it. Rose Byrne plays one of the bad guys and an unpleasant one at that (I think the film would use a b-word here), whilst her compatriot on Annie, Bobby Cannavale plays another suave villain. It was great to see Morena Baccarin, who will always be Inara of Firefly fame to me, although she’s been plenty busy since. Miranda Hart, whom I’ve not seen before, was absolutely brilliant. While this is Melissa McCarthy’s baby, the whole cast comes together and brings the film up a notch; they act as an ensemble.
One of the surprises about this film is that it comes across as a big budget film. Not only is its cast amazing, but the production level, the stunts, the location shots and the overall feel of the film is polished. Another nice thing about the movie is that it sustains its humor throughout. So often in physical comedy movies there are pockets of humor with some embarrassment in between. This movie keeps the humor fresh, never tiring throughout the film. Even on themes that repeated, they were still funny at the end. Another nice element of the movie is that it really did have a solid storyline all the way through. Even when the humor was crude, it was clever. Not that every bit was brilliant repartee, but it was clever.
So, would I recommend the film? I cannot. Could this have been a film I would love to recommend maintaining a high level of humor without the need to be bombarded by the F word or such heavy-handed innuendo (and very brief flash of some very inappropriate nudity)? Absolutely.