Wednesday, March 18, 2015

SXSW 2015: Spy

The inclusivity of this Melissa McCarthy showcase leaves plenty of room for the rest of the cast to stretch their comedic legs. And judging by the results, Hollywood has been doing to Miranda Hart, Jason Statham, and Jude Law pretty much what the CIA is doing to McCarthy's Agent Susan Cooper when Spy begins: typecasting them and seriously underutilizing their talents. Law is gleefully narcissistic as the slick, self-loving Bradley Fine, a cool guy prone to Bond-like moves like leaping into view onscreen from the branches of a tree. Statham subverts his own image, turning up his usual scowling intensity just enough to tip over into comic petulance as a macho agent with a dangerously short fuse who tells increasingly impossible tales about the hardships he's endured on the job, like claiming that one of his arms was ripped off and he sewed it back on with the other. And as Susan's loyal friend and fellow agent, Linda, Hart radiates a slightly goofy sincerity and unstinting enthusiasm that makes her character laughable yet enormously likable.

Writer-director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) has always understood the importance of female friendship. He keeps the focus on this one as Linda shores Susan up on the job as well as over drinks after work. And Susan needs shoring up, at least at first, because her confidence has been systematically undermined by Fine. Using her resoundingly unrequited, painfully obvious crush on him as leverage, he delegated the former red-hot recruit to the CIA basement from which she directs his actions long-distance, reduced to being the voice in his earbud while he does his glamorous, field-agent shtick. As a result, when Fine is killed in action and Susan volunteers to go into the field to complete his mission, even her boss (a nicely flinty Allison Janney) is shocked to learn that she just might have what it takes.Read the rest on The House Next Door

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