Directed by Paul Feig
I spy an unwanted trilogy. Of course, any franchise future will have a lot to do with the box office success of “Spy.” But considering the last two movies to come from director Paul Feig and comedienne Melissa McCarthy—“Bridesmaids” and “The Heat”—are both among the most financially successful R-rated movies of all time, I can’t see why the lackluster “Spy” won’t receive the same undeserved attention.
Criminal jurisdiction and protocol has never been more absurd than when CIA analyst Susan Cooper (McCarthy) is called upon to go undercover in Paris after the death of an agent (Jude Law). Why not send veteran agent and all-around badass Rick Ford (Jason Statham)? Because the identities of all of the CIA’s active field agents have been revealed by a mole to Raina Boyanov (Rose Byrne), who is in talks with arms dealer De Luca (Bobby Cavanale) to sell him a portable nuclear bomb (it’s always a nuclear bomb, isn’t it?). Asking Cooper to go undercover is just asking for trouble, as she gets in a little deeper than she was supposed to.
Melissa McCarthy has been in exactly one role that I actually enjoyed, playing Maggie in last year’s underappreciated “St. Vincent.” When she’s in straight-comedic roles, like this one, she tends to stoop to low levels for cheap laughs. Slapstick or insult comedy…or dick jokes. Or maybe her writers have resorted to giving her the same low-brow material to work with. (“Spy” is the first Feig-McCarthy movie that he wrote as well as directed…though I couldn’t tell a difference.) Either way, her shtick has lost its je ne sais quoi. Rose Byrne, strutting her comedic stuff in last year’s “Neighbors,” is a bright spot. And Jason Statham has the element of surprise in his favor. Since we don’t associate the British action star with comedy, his jokes draw more of a response. From McCarthy, however, we get what we expect. Though I’ve never been a fan, the masses have shown their support. If they continue to do so, we can continue to see more of this. I’m hoping people let McCarthy grow out of these roles. Let her transition into more serious roles for good. But I’m not getting my hopes up.