After working together on "Bridesmaids" and "The Heat," director Paul Feig and actress Melissa McCarthy are back in action with "Spy," the espionage-themed comedy about a capable but underestimated CIA desk jockey who finally gets sent into the field to save the world.
So what's the latest intel? According to overwhelmingly positive reviews, "Spy" carries out its mission to entertain with aplomb, thanks in large part to McCarthy's freewheeling talent.
The Los Angeles Times' Mark Olsen writes: "For a few years now, summer movies have been tinged by such darkness and destruction that when a movie as adamantly breezy as 'Spy' comes along it feels not just refreshing but like a rebuke." Enjoyable without being "oppressive, mean or totally mindless," the film continues McCarthy's blossoming as a leading lady. It also benefits from Feig's expert "modulation of the comedy" and a "crack cast" that includes Rose Byrne, Jason Statham and Allison Janney.
In the end, Olsen says: "'Spy' may not be a great movie, but it is great fun. And at times it will have you wondering if there's that much of a difference."
The New York Times' A.O. Scott calls "Spy" a "wild, profane, surprisingly bloody caper-comedy" in which "the busy, silly script allows Ms. McCarthy to be her own best sidekick, in effect an entire sketch-comedy troupe unto herself."
Scott adds that "the big, hectic set pieces aren't bad, as long as the gunfire doesn't drown out Ms. McCarthy's floridly inventive insults and non sequiturs," and "even better is the blithe feminism that makes 'Spy' feel at once revolutionary and like no big deal."
The Washington Post's Ann Hornaday says: "There are lots of things to like about 'Spy,' and more than a few to love." Even if Feig's movies "aren't particularly stylish," they do possess "a silly, sweet streak that makes them irresistibly infectious."
McCarthy, Hornaday continues, is "the real revelation." In "Spy," she seizes an opportunity to do more than just slapstick — she's also "glamorous, crafty, smart, funny, brave and surpassingly loyal to her female colleagues."
The San Francisco Chronicle's Mick LaSalle" says "Spy" is "the first film to make a real case for [McCarthy] as a name-above-the-title star. ... Everything anybody likes about Melissa McCarthy is contained in this movie."
LaSalle continues: "She has subtle moments of comic acting, in which she has to react to people with a complexity of emotion. She gets to show her abilities as a straight man, suppressing frustration at the clueless people around her. The movie showcases her slapstick ability, too, her inspired silliness; and it also gives her a chance to be aggressive and verbally abusive."
And the Associated Press' Jake Coyle says flat-out: "Nobody is a better comedic actor right now than Melissa McCarthy. She's a combustible ball of comic fury rolled up in Chaplinesque sweetness, equally capable of profanity-laced verbal virtuosity as perfectly timed pratfalls."
As good as McCarthy is, Coyle also has kudos for Statham, who "nearly steals the film by playing a parody of his own grave, gonzo persona."
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