Director: Paul Feig
Writer: Paul Feig
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Miranda Hart, Rose Byrne, Allison Janney, Morena Baccarin, Jason Statham, Bobby Cannavale, Will Yun Lee, Nargis Fakhri, Peter Serafinowicz, 50 Cent
Seen on: 8.6.2015
Bradley Fine (Jude Law) is a superspy as you imagine him: good-looking, suave and mostly investigating within the upper class. But he wouldn’t be half the spy he was without Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy), his handler: Susan might not be in the field herself, but with the help of visual and audio equipment, she sees the world through Bradley’s eyes – with multiple enhancements. And she is the best at what she does. But when Bradley ignores her advice, is killed by Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne). And Rayna goes on to blow the cover of every active field agent. While uncovered spy Rick Ford (Jason Statham) goes rogue, Susan herself steps up – and out into the field.
Spy does many things right, but it does enough that didn’t work for me to keep me only very mildly enthusiastic about it – despite the good stuff.
There is a lot to love about Spy: it’s a film about a competent woman who has been kept small for years – because she’s a woman and because she’s fat. People don’t believe in Susan, and neither does Susan. She isn’t taken seriously and even the people who see her competencies – like Fine – condescend to her. And then she proves to them all that they are wrong and that she can deal with things just fine (a second of silence for the concept that even a fat woman might be incompetent and still loveable and worth something, that is not this film’s story). She can handle the condescension from Fine, she can handle the machismo from Ford and she can handle the sexual harassment from Aldo (Peter Serafinowicz). Above all, she can handle the job, not only from the sidelines, but as a superspy herself.
All of that pretty feminism is wrapped into a beautiful James Bond persiflage that hits home on several points and that shows that Jason Statham has a sense of humor and a sense for self-deprecation, which is also fantastic (and instantly makes him even more attractive, I’m not sorry to say). And I can only say that it is wonderful to see a fat woman kick ass as a spy and I hope that at some point that concept might even move outside of a comedy.
Unforunately the movie is not all sunshine and roses and feminist kittens. I could have done without the fecal humor (I usually can) and above all I could have done without Aldo’s constant sexual harassment that was only ever treated as a joke. It was tiring, especially since it always came down to Susan batting his hands away, but never really getting angry at him. In the end she’s ready to forgive him in an instant, and their cooperation is never called into question because of it. Also, a single, fat cat owner I took slight offense at that returning joke: it is always assumed that Susan has cats and is single. The latter is true, the former isn’t, and she’s always weirded out by the fact that it was assumed. I understand that, I’d be weirded out as well if people just started to assume that about me, even though it’s true. I just wish that a single moment in the film would have acknowledged that it is not inherently bad to be a single, fat cat owner.
Much as with Bridesmaids, Feig’s last film, I appreciate its sentiments and I appreciate the cast, I just wish that somebody with a different sense of humor had written it. In the case of Bridesmaids, I got Bachelorette a short while later, which was exactly what I wanted. Maybe the same will happen with Spy?