spyMelissa McCarthy and Paul Feig. Sometimes a director just knows how to bring out the best in an actor. For the old-timers, think John Ford and John Wayne. Or maybe Martin Scorcese and Robert DeNiro. For comedy, Put McCarthy and Feig in that category. First with BRIDESMAIDS, then with THE HEAT, the two have a rhythm that brings out the best in McCarthy. SPY is just the latest proof of their success. From the opening sequence featuring a very Bond-like Jude Law, to the opening credits with a very Bond-like song (sung by Ivy Levan) you get the general idea of what you are in for. Law is a dashing CIA operative who relies on the expertise of McCarthy back in Langley. While on a mission, Law is killed by the daughter of an arms dealer played by Rose Byrne while McCarthy is watching. With all of their field agents identities compromised, McCarthy volunteers to go into the field, catch Byrne and stop the sale of a suitcase nuke to terrorists. But she is also bent on avenging the man she loves. There are several different comic themes at play here. Making jokes about McCarthy’s appearance is a running gag. But the brilliance is they turn that easy joke on its head because McCarthy has mad skills. She is a great field agent. Another running gag is McCarthy’s fake identities. She longs to have a cool name with a cool job. Instead she’s always portrayed as a loser or divorced mother and her frustration is never not funny. Feig also turns a lot of spy tropes on their heads with genius results. Jason Statham is a loose cannon agent who feels the need to cite his completely unbelievable resume at every opportunity. Byrne’s detached menace works great with her smoldering sexiness. Her banter with McCarthy is hilarious. In case you think this is merely string of jokes, you’d be missing out on a pretty good spy story too. Take the comedy away and this would be a decent thriller. Insert the comedy and you have a brilliant movie that is thoroughly enjoyable and hysterically funny. This is a formula that could work as a continuing franchise because it’s not just about McCarthy’s “fish out of waterness”. I look forward to what they come up with for a sequel. — Alan Yudman

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