Sarcasm in the first paragraph aside, I don’t hate Melissa McCarthy. Actually, I think she’s got some of the best comedic range and timing in Hollywood today. She excels as an audience surrogate, saying things we wish we had the wit or the gall to say. So the sarcasm and annoyance doesn’t stem from a hatred of McCarthy, but an honest appreciation of skill, and respect for her abilities, that is worn thin when she’s asked to fall down. Over and over again.
In Spy, McCarthy is a mild mannered lady who (spoiler alert) becomes a spy. Director Paul Feig is back at the helm, having previously worked with McCarthy in the wonderful Bridesmaids and the lukewarm The Heat. It’s clear that everyone assumes Feig and McCarthy were the reason for the success of Bridesmaids, seemingly forgetting Kristen Wiig’s amazing script. In Bridesmaids every character had memorable lines and moments, which lead to a much more memorable movie. The McCarthy-led scripts that followed removed every funny character but McCarthy.
That isn’t to say Spy is completely lacking enjoyment. McCarthy delivers solid jokes, and Jason Statham keeps up surprisingly well. However, there are almost too many jokes. It feels like they tried several takes of each line, asking the actors to improvise new lines each time, in order to pick the best out during editing. But then they didn’t cut the other lines. There are several instances where characters will deliver six or seven variations of the same joke back to back. This leads to a movie that feels bloated and insecure.
Overall, there are worse movies to watch than Spy. In fact, it’s probably the second best Melissa McCarthy movie out there. But with such great talent, McCarthy’s filmography deserves to have a higher bar for success. Preferably one she doesn’t fall down under.
Quick Review: Spy isn’t the best or worst movie to come out this summer, but with the immensely talented Melissa McCarthy, audiences should expect a little more.