I adore Melissa McCarthy. In 2011, she accomplished a wonderfully rare and spectacular feat – she managed to give an amazing comedic performance in a straight-out comedy, and ride her brilliance to an Oscar nomination. Her performance in Bridesmaids was just the very beginning for Melissa, because since then, she has just been on a positive upswing of hilarious films, and proves the fact that a unique and interesting person can get lead roles in huge films. Spy is her latest film, and I would be lying if I said this was not Melissa McCarthy’s finest performance yet.
Melissa McCarthy has gotten a bad reputation in some circles because she seemingly only plays one character (the gross, but lovable, middle-aged woman), and while I adore it (the fact that McCarthy is able to do all that physical comedy is a real testament to her talent), many people just plain don’t like her for that character. Spy should get those people to keep quiet, as her role here is entirely different to anything she has ever played before. Here, she departs the role that Bridesmaids, Tammy and The Heat defined for her, and instead adopts a role closer to her great work on Mike and Molly – that of a sweet, cheerful and earnest woman with hopes and dreams, and the motivation to keep on pursuing her goals. While I do love her in everything she does, including the aforementioned films, it is also wonderful to see her in a slightly different role.
Of course we need to give McCarthy some major kudos for everything she accomplishes in this film. In this film, she gives a performance not many actresses can give – one filled with stunts, action, fighting and of course heart-stopping tension. Even though a stunt double was used at times, McCarthy did a considerable amount of physically draining work and gave this performance her all. I think that for what she does in this film deserves incredible amounts of praise, and proves why Melissa McCarthy is one of the best stars working today.
However, Spy is much more than simply Melissa McCarthy’s brilliant performance. The supporting cast is stellar. Rose Byrne is simply outstanding. She is rapidly becoming a powerful comedic force, and her performance here is equally as strong as McCarthy’s. Between this, Bridesmaids and Neighbours, it is truly plausible that Byrne is on the brink of superstardom, and very soon we will see her effectively holding her on in a lead role of a film. In addition to Byrne, there is a brilliant breakout performance in the supporting cast – that of Miranda Hart, who truly transcends the stereotypical “best friend” role in comedy films. What starts off like a very one-dimensional role instead turns into something very special. Hart provides the same comedic brilliance in the supporting capacity that McCarthy herself provided in Bridesmaids, and we can only hope that Hart’s performance ends up with the same amount of acclaim, attention and awards recognition that McCarthy’s did, and if there truly is any justice in the world, McCarthy, Byrne and Hart will receive due recognition for their performances in this film.
Of course, the men of this film are also wonderful. Jude Law is wonderfully suave and funny as the smooth Bradley Fine, and proves that he, in addition to being a fine actor, is also comedically gifted. Here is something I’ve never said before – I was quite impressed by Jason Statham here. Its pleasantly perplexing when an actor you previously wrote off truly does surprise you, and Statham does that here. With exceptional comedic timing and a touch of heroic stupidity added to his role, Statham is excellent. One performance very rarely brought up, but I thought equally brilliant in the work he was given to do here, came from British character actor Peter Serafinowicz, who plays the inappropriately grotesque Aldo, who is so dirty-minded, but has such a good heart. In addition to Miranda Hart, Peter Serafinowicz is another great performer given a suitable breakout performance here, and I can only hope that he will get more great roles…or maybe even return for the inevitable sequel (hey, if James Bond can have fifty years of films, then this film can have a sequel).
In the end, this film is a future classic. It lampoons Spy films with such dignity and grace, and while it has its share of gross-out humor, it is mostly a classy and graceful comedy and of course succeeds in both being one of the most hilarious films of the last decade, but also one of the most entertaining action films, and that comes from someone who personally avoids action films. Spy is brilliant and if you want a really funny film with some great performances and a simple but effective story, then you certainly need to give this film a look. For those unconverted to the Temple of McCarthy, then this might just be what you need. For those who adore McCarthy in all her quirkiness and comedic brilliance, this will no-doubt make you love her more. A wonderfully brilliant film, and I wouldn’t be ashamed to name this as my favorite film of 2015, when the end of the year comes.