NEW YORK (CNS) — Sharply observed and cleverly executed, writer-director Paul Feig’s espionage satire “Spy” (Fox) boasts a large potential for fun.
Yet the abundant entertainment that might be hoped for from his genre-ribbing comedy, with its array of eccentric characters, is ultimately squelched by an excess of crude material and vulgar dialogue.
Equally overburdened by the film’s needless cargo of coarseness is the mild poignancy of its central relationship. Blinkered by vanity, the elegant, James Bond-like CIA field operative Bradley Fine (Jude Law) fails to realize that he owes the better part of his success to the remote, high-tech support he receives from his desk-bound partner back at headquarters, Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy).
Bradley’s shallow assumptions also blind him to the fact that awkward, self-effacing Susan’s devotion to him is more than merely professional.
Susan’s heartfelt dedication is put to the test when Fine becomes a casualty in the agency’s effort to bring down Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne), the ruthless heir of an international crime dynasty. Determined to avenge her beloved idol, Susan convinces her prickly boss, Elaine Crocker (Allison Janney), to let her leave Langley and go undercover. Though ostensibly her mission is merely to track Rayna, Susan’s real goal is to nab the evildoer.
Masked by the series of uniformly embarrassing disguises Elaine supplies her with, Susan pursues outrageously spoiled, wildly cynical Rayna from one elegant European venue to the next.
Along the way, she’s aided, albeit ineptly, by her goodhearted officemate and best friend Nancy (Miranda Hart). But the relentless, disdain-driven interference of another colleague, macho lunkhead Rick Ford (Jason Statham), threatens to derail Susan’s risky project at every turn.
Vastly superior to Feig and McCarthy’s popular 2011 collaboration, “Bridesmaids,” “Spy” deploys the latter’s trademark blend of orneriness and sensitivity to far more satisfying effect. Yet, along with a level of bloodletting wholly unjustified by the comic context, the childish urge to shock undermines the script’s more respectable humor, tainting the whole endeavor with a stain of sophomoric stupidity.
The film contains intermittent harsh violence with gore, brief obscene images, much sexual and some scatological humor, over a dozen uses of profanity and pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103