On your knees, slaves! Melissa McCarthy is comedy royalty. And Spy, her best screen funfest to date, seals her coronation. Playing CIA agent Susan Cooper, finally getting into the danger zone after a decade at Langley in service of a pretty-boy spy (Jude Law, expertly spoofing 007), McCarthy knocks every laugh out of the park. And not by being an idiot. Susan has what it takes to bring down baddies (including a sublimely droll Rose Byrne as a Bulgarian nuclear-arms dealer) and make converts of macho agents (Jason Statham, hardass and hilarious). Susan, who looks like “someone’s homophobic aunt,” has been sold short by her boss (Allison Janney). And McCarthy, who looks like no one’s idea of Hollywood glamour, knows the feeling. Good to see them both make suckers of their critics.
In Spy, McCarthy is working again with the wizardly director Paul Feig, who guided her to an Oscar nomination in Bridesmaids and box-office fever in The Heat. They’re a dynamite team, with Feig’s script a bonanza of zingers and femcentric subtext. As Susan trots around the globe — Paris, Rome, Budapest — to spy on Al Qaeda-connected terrorist Sergio De Luca (Bobby Cannavale), you can see her spread her badass wings. Susan is on her own, at least until her gangly office BFF — the wonderful Miranda Hart of Call the Midwife — joins her to make Bond look like a pussy.
No fair giving away the jokes or the ins and outs of the plot, which brims with R-rated action and raunchy one-liners. It’s all outrageously entertaining, from Susan’s makeovers, frumpy to fab, to the lethal weapons disguised as stool softeners and hemorrhoid patches. All the actors come up aces. And let’s bottle the delicious byplay between McCarthy and Byrne, whose comic timing is bitchy perfection. It’s a kick to watch as McCarthy comes out blazing while creating a character who cuts right to the heart. McCarthy is totally irresistible. Ditto the movie.