“Spy” is one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen! It’s not easy to make a comedy. It requires perfectly timed scenes, music, dialogue, and action, along with a fluid style that carries throughout the film. The end result must be a “Mozart symphony” of lighthearted, rapid-fire laughs with emotional surprises around every turn. “Spy” is a Peter Sellers-style madcap comedy with an edge. It reflects our awkward efforts to boost our self-esteem and our image: like hair extensions, embellished stories of dangerous exploits, outrageous fashion, and extreme diets.
The opening minutes comprise a superbly shot and scored rendition of a Sean Connery-era James Bond classic. We zoom in over the water towards the shore where, in an opulent mansion, the first scenes take place. With “Bondian” over-the-top parody the action plays out quickly. Visual cues rather than explanation move the story. The characters are hilarious and relatable. We want them to win — even the bad guys.
Writer/director Paul Feig has crafted a tight script with a singular style of almost (not quite) slapstick satire that carries throughout the movie. Memorable scenes abound and flow seamlessly from one to another, thanks to the team he has pulled together here, many of whom teamed previously with him and with star Melissa McCarthy. Cinematographer Robert D. Yeoman is veteran of Wes Anderson films. Indeed there is a neatly composed whimsicality and wackiness to the movie that you might say evokes Wes Anderson on steroids.
Composer Theodore Shapiro has crafted a score that shapes the style of the film. Editors Melissa Bretherton and Brent White, comedy veterans, worked with Feig and McCarthy on “The Heat,” as did production designer Jefferson Sage (who worked with them on “Bridesmaids” as well). Hungarian casting director Zsolt Csutak has recruited an excellent roster of players.
McCarthy was not afraid to put herself back in the spotlight after some so-so offerings. She is able to learn from “defeat” rather than be defeated. Here she is powerfully comical in her role as a CIA agent. Jude Law does a flawless turn as a Sean Connery caricature. Comedienne Miranda Hart (who is 6 feet 1 inch tall) is perfectly cast as McCarthy’s 5-foot-2 sidekick. Rose Byrne is subtly impeccable as the “straight man” in this comedy. Jason Statham, as Rick Ford, has us rolling on the floor with a hilarious send-up of his own ubiquitous bad guy roles. Peter Serafinowicz, who usually plays sinister villains, stands out as the goofy chauffeur who keeps popping up unexpectedly.
Perhaps your life has grown a little out of control lately. Perhaps you’re inundated with demands and deadlines — from work, from family, from friends … Responsibilities loom around every corner — you can’t seem to catch up with texts, emails, Facebook, with your own expectations. Antidote: go see “Spy” — learn how to laugh at yourself and at all the fun people around you unknowingly create. A great comedy will let you step outside yourself and look at the “big picture” from a higher plane of existence. That’s what “Spy” does.
Rated R. 120 minutes.
Kathryn Whitney Boole was drawn into the entertainment industry as a kid and never left. It has been the backdrop for many awesome adventures with crazy creative people. She now works as a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. Reach her email@example.com.