Melissa McCarthy

Photo Credit: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

It seems obvious that “Spy” was produced as a star vehicle for comedian Melissa McCarthy. This isn’t really an issue, as McCarthy is talented and has before proven that she is a comedic powerhouse. Reteaming with writer and director Paul Feig, whose gut-busting screenplay propels the film to extraordinary levels, the actress finally steps into a leading role that allows her to use her personality to mock the spy film genre.

Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is a secret agent for the CIA, but unfortunately, the only work she does for the agency is from behind a desk. Her job is to look out for her partner Bradley Fine (Jude Law), a carbon copy of James Bond, by being his "eyes and ears" while he is out saving the world. During one mission, Fine killed by femme fatale Rayna (Rose Bryne). After Rayna reveals that she knows the identity of all active CIA spies, the agency decides to send the unassuming Cooper to find Rayna. Desperate to avenge Fine and stop Rayna’s father from getting his hands on a nuke, Cooper teams with hotheaded agent Rick Ford (Jason Statham) to get ahold of the nuke and save the world.

Watch the trailer for "Spy" now:

“Spy” probably isn’t the best satire of spy films around, but it knows how to use its source material to incorporate well-written humor. Some elements of well-known spy franchises are used wonderfully. One example includes a moment when Cooper receives an assortment of high-tech gadgets for her mission – but is dismayed that they are concealed in toe-fungus spray cans and hemorrhoid cream. Other homages to the genre lack the creativity of others. The stylized opening theme reminiscent of those found in the James Bond franchise is bland and unoriginal.

McCartney is hilarious as the eccentric, but strong-willed Cooper. While some may be fooled by trailers painting the character as a dimwit who’s out of her element, it’s clear early in the film that she is as experienced as her male counterparts. She’s a goofball, but she takes her job seriously and can take on any gun-toting thug that comes near her. Bryne’s sharp-tongued Rayna is another highlight. After being presented in Feig’s previous film “Bridesmaids” as a good-intentioned sweetheart, it’s amusing to see her return as a profanity-spewing, spoiled heiress. Statham’s role as an arrogant undercover spy is underplayed, but the moments where he dons ridiculous disguises are hysterical.

Feig’s hilarious screenplay drives the film. Every laugh aims for, and mostly succeeds, in getting a laugh. Some of the jokes fall flat and end up going nowhere, but Feig knows how to channel McCarthy’s energy and comedic talent to avoid unfunny pitfalls. The humor isn’t exactly subtle, as Feig goes straight toward belly laughs. Critics of obscene or bodily humor will likely not get much laughs out of “Spy,” but as this film comes from the mind who packed tons of gross-out moments into “Bridesmaids,” they should know what they’re getting into.

“Spy” delivers a solid, humorous take on a genre that is already pretty ridiculous. Feig’s quip-filled screenplay gives the film its edge and makes good use of the actors’ comedic abilities. McCarthy is funny as the goofy, but skilled agent, and it’s her humor that ultimately makes the film work. Proving once again that the McCarthy-Feig combo delivers great results, the two deliver another memorable, hilarious hit.

Director: Paul Feig

  • Genre: Comedy
  • Runtime: 120 minutes
  • Rating: 7/10 Disguished Jason Stathams

SNL in review: Melissa McCarthy

Are you freaking kidding me, "Saturday Night Live"?

Last night, Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly, Bridesmaids, Identity Thief) hosted for the second time. And for the second time, SNL typecast McCarthy and made almost every sketch about her weight.

I understand that, in the writing of every episode, the guest host for the week has a fair amount of say in the sketches and the way they’re written. But I really don’t understand why McCarthy gets put in the same Nancy Reagan wig with the same Coca Cola-bottle glasses wearing the same pastel sweatsuit, making the same jokes that revolve around her being awkward, unattractive, unfeminine and food-obsessed. There were two whole skits revolving around food. She sang an ode to ham and asked for a loan to be a professional pizza eater. The first time she hosted the show, she played a lady with a perm and a Spock sweatshirt who guzzled ranch dressing. Are you freaking kidding me?

McCarthy is a hilarious and beautiful actress but I feel like her go-to kooky lady character is so exhausted. It’s as if because she doesn’t fit the typical Hollywood body type she isn’t allowed to play a glamorous, or even normal, woman. Instead she is casted in masculine and sexually unattractive roles.

I am getting the impression that Hollywood believes women can’t be attractive and genuinely funny at the same time, that women are only funny if something about them is physically amiss.

This whole episode was just … ugh.

But hey, Drunk Uncle and drunk Peter Dinklage were actually quite funny.

Movie Review

This undated publicity image released by Universal Pictures shows Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman in a scene from "Identity Thief." (Photo courtesy Universal Pictures)

Identity Thief” is exactly what you expect when you sit down to watch a road movie from the director of the mediocre “Horrible Bosses” starring Jason Bateman — yet another film where an everyman is stuffed into a car with a sociopath and something loosely resembling hijinks ensues. “Identity Thief” is the blandest possible version of that movie, seemingly assembled from bits and pieces of better films on some sort of production line for mediocre comedies.

Bateman plays Sandy Patterson, a mid-level financial worker who, in a remarkably gullible move, gives out his Social Security number over the phone to someone offering him identity theft protection. A few weeks later, Diana (Melissa McCarthy) has run up thousands of dollars of credit in his name. When local police are unhelpful and his job is put into jeopardy, Sandy sets off across the country to wrangle Diana and bring her in to answer for her crimes.

From the very beginning, “Identity Thief” strains the boundaries of credibility. Many of its characters are simple plot devices, especially the police who literally shrug and tell Sandy he’ll have to go catch a criminal on his own. Screenwriter Craig Mazin’s work has been mostly composed of the “Scary Movie” and “Hangover” sequels, and his reliance on humor over character development carries over here. Unfortunately, even though there is the occasional laugh in “Identity Thief,” it’s almost entirely because of the actors’ delivery of Mazin’s half-baked dialogue.

Director Seth Gordon made one of the documentary genre’s most enjoyable films with 2007’s “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters,” but he’s floundered in Hollywood, producing work that sternly adheres to a regimen of predictability and tonal dyslexia. Gordon’s direction is competent in that he frames his actors well and doesn’t draw too much attention to himself, but huge chunks of “Identity Thief” are utterly forgettable detours populated by an impressively
expansive cast of misused actors. There’s no originality or purpose to “Identity Thief,” and it’s hard to engage with a film when every beat is blatantly transparent.

Despite the vacuum of talent behind “Identity Thief,” both Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy try their very hardest to sell this material. Since “Bridesmaids,” Hollywood has been bending over backward to give roles to McCarthy, but her typically abrasive comedic signature turns Diana into a repulsive, deeply unsympathetic character. However, when McCarthy commits to a part, she really goes for it, and while she proves to be a reliable source of laughs throughout, she’s equally impressive in the film’s dramatic moments.

Meanwhile, Jason Bateman continues to display horrible taste in projects alongside effortlessly deadpan comedic chops. Bateman has been the leading man in a number of abysmal comedies over the last few years, and his straight-faced exasperation seems equally driven by McCarthy’s character and a desire to get into a better movie. Even so, any part of “Identity Thief” that works is thanks to McCarthy and Bateman’s alternately tender and acidic dynamic.

Without a number of other movies leaving a road map for how to tell this sort of story, “Identity Thief” wouldn’t exist. The film feels blatantly manufactured, its characters rarely rising above their roles as simple joke delivery mechanisms. “Identity Thief” will likely go down in history as a flavorless product existing solely to give its cast and crew something to do, as a film that cribs so ruthlessly from its predecessors that it’s blissfully unaware of just how accurate its title is.

Published on February 8, 2013 as "Identity Theif lacks own identity".