'Spy': What the Critics Are Saying
Melissa McCarthy stars as the world's most unlikely secret agent in this action-comedy.
Melissa McCarthy stars in Spy as a desk-bound CIA analyst who finds herself working in the field to infiltrate a ring of deadly international arms dealers.
Bridesmaids and The Heat director Paul Feig (here taking on the dual duties of writer and director) reunites with McCarthy on the espionage comedy, which also stars Rose Byrne, Jude Law, Jason Statham, Allison Janney and Bobby Cannavale.
The film faces competition from fellow R-rated comedy Entourage, which had an early release this Wednesday, and horror flick Insidious 3 — both of which have an established fan base. Even still, Spy is expected to earn in the low- to mid-$30 million range and will likely earn the top spot over the weekend.
Read what top critics are saying about Spy:
The Hollywood Reporter's John DeFore says McCarthy "comes into her own as a comic star in Spy, stepping out from recent supporting and co-headlining roles to become the big-screen A-lister she promised to be in 2011's Bridesmaids," and while her "girth lends physical comedy to the action scenes. She owns those laughs, … maintaining more self-respect than many plus-sized male comedians before her." Statham is "surprisingly good at sending up [his] macho numbskull's overconfidence, especially when he tries to establish his bona fides with a hilariously outlandish list of things he's endured in the line of duty," and Byrne is a "perfectly haughty aristocrat."
Additionally, director Feig "remains one of the best friends women in comedy have, managing to get yuks from fat-lady jokes while mocking a world that treats such women like they're invisible," and "puts himself in the service of female characters who share more with the women in the audience than with stock Hollywood stereotypes."
The New York Times' A.O. Scott calls the film a "potential franchise built around [McCarthy's] talents and her proven audience appeal." The film is "flush with high-end visual effects purchased on the strength of their success," and "there's an undercurrent of cheeky surrealism that sometimes pops to the surface." The movie has a "blithe feminism that makes [it] feel at once revolutionary and like no big deal." It "isn't uplifting; it's buoyant."
The Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips notes McCarthy "exhibits a newfound subtlety" and the rest of the cast ""drives this vehicle with supreme confidence." Statham is "hilariously belligerent," Law is "consistently funny," and Byrne "provides the needed contrast to our heroine." The film's "laughs are there, small bits and large."
The Washington Post's Ann Hornaday gives the film two-and-a-half stars and writes, "There are lots of things to like about Spy and more than a few to love." However, "This isn't to say that Spy is perfect — far from it. There are jokes that don't land and bits that are just lame (and the mice-in-the-CIA bit goes nowhere fast), and it's at least 10 to 20 minutes too long." It "isn't particular stylish," though it does "possess a silly, sweet streak that makes [it] irresistibly infectious." The film does deliver "the physical stunts, running gags and stinging one-liners that audiences expect from the form, even if Feig depends once too often on simplistic vulgarity to land a joke."
The New York Post's Kyle Smith states that Feig is "uncertain both with plot (full of pointless turns) and the jokes," and, "It's a setback for McCarthy's career to have her play" the "sweet, eager-to-please 'lunch lady.'" If a sequel is made "they should cut down on the endless, tedious chases and shootouts. The only lethal weapon a McCarthy movie needs is McCarthy's sarcasm."