<b>LICENSE TO LAUGH:</b> Melissa McCarthy and <i>Bridesmaids</i> director Paul Feig
reteam for some more raucous, R-rated fun in <i>Spy</i>.

Spy is the newest comedy for Melissa McCarthy to shine in, and it’s one of her best movies yet. Unlike last year’s disappointing Tammy, which slowed into a too-serious third act, Spy starts funny and keeps firing off laugh after zany laugh. In this movie, McCarthy plays Susan Cooper, a humble but talented CIA agent stuck guiding and informing other agents from behind her rodent-infested basement desk. The loss of her dashing pal, Agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law), stirs her into action, and she’s soon chasing the trail of a compact nuclear bomb throughout Europe while in disguise, to the disbelief of her male colleagues and the many various villains shooting at her along the way.

It’s an outrageous ride filled with great characters, goofy gore, and more twists than any windy rue de Paris. McCarthy is joined by a stellar cast, including fellow Bridesmaids star Rose Byrne as the heartless daughter of a weapons dealer, and Jason Statham as Ford, a boastful but bumbling British agent who’s all bark and no Bond. Together they make full use of the movie’s R rating, as people are impaled, penises are flashed, and emasculating insults are dealt with raucous relish. And McCarthy, of course, is queen of her screen. Her brash comedy comes so naturally that much of it has to have been improvised — she’s one of the most commanding, graceful, and lovable comedians around, and no one can berate as she can.

Admittedly, the amount of double-crossing gets a little confusing, and the script is stretched nearly too long. Tiresomely, some things never change, like villains who still monologue just long enough for an unseen hero to off them. But otherwise, much of this movie’s jokes come from thwarted expectations, be they old spy-movie tropes or certain feminine guises. It’s certainly a big middle finger to those moviegoers who ever doubted McCarthy’s acting chops in a man’s movie world. If laughs are your mission, then see the hilarious and energizing Spy, and consider the mission accomplished.


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