After utilising her in a support role in Bridesmaids and as the shared lead in Heat, it appears that Melissa McCarthy has become Paul Feig’s muse as she’s now front and centre in his new James Bond spoof, Spy.
Feig may have inadvertently stumbled upon McCarthy’s limitations, however, as his star is strangely the least funny character for at least the first half of the movie. This is because for the first half of the film McCarthy is playing the ‘nice girl’ and ‘nice’ McCarthy just isn’t very funny. Fear not, though, when Rose Byrne’s villain enters the picture, McCarthy gets a sparring partner and enters ‘hard arse’ mode and hard arse McCarthy is very funny indeed.
In the comedic void that is the first half of the film, the best comedic performance surprisingly comes from action star, Jason Statham, reminding us of his big screen debut in Guy Richie’s popular and funny Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. It’s a welcome return to comedy for Statham; a turn that we’ll hopefully see more of amidst his well established action career. But Statham features only sporadically throughout the film so in the absence of any solid comedy in the first half, it makes for a fairly pedestrian opener.
Performances from the rest of the cast which include Jude Law, Allison Janney (strangely uncredited), Miranda Hart and Morena Baccarin are merely adequate and add little to the comedy quotient.
Spy is an uneven comedy. While all the cylinders may fire at one time or other, they never fire together. It’s as if there were a ‘funny stick’ being passed around the set preventing more than one character being funny at any given time. This combined with a lack of a binding spiritual soul (which made Bridesmaids so successful) means that there’s little in Spy to be emotionally engaged with.