I laughed. I laughed a lot. I cringed and then I laughed. I laughed because it was funny, and then there were the times I laughed because of years of conditioning that have taught me that all fat jokes are hilarious.
I like Melissa McCarthy, right from when I saw her as accident-prone Sookie on Gilmore Girls. Spy was a far better film to watch than another of McCarthy’s films, Identity Thief. Not just because Rose Byrne was in it with her “bird arms”, at one point trying to push a gun across the floor to Susan Cooper AKA Penny Morgan, AKA Amber Valentine AKA whatever.
I like the paradigm of an inept but surprisingly awesome agent saving the day, I mean we all loved Johnny English, didn’t we? But Susan Cooper is not lucky the way Johnny English was. She is instead extremely ingenious, and has some scary-good combat skills, which we get to see in a video of one of her training exercises. “I wanted to put it up on YouTube”, says her boss, deadpan Elaine Crocker who threatens another agent if he dares to call her “Betty Crocker”. That was one of the moments where the movie was funny without insisting on doing it at the expense of Susan.
In pursuit of someone who tried to shoot them, Cooper naturally got on a scooter, and immediately regretted it, “Who puts a roof on a scooter? What are you, the Pope?!” It made me pause the film to really get all my laughter out. The film offers plenty of these zingers, but sadly also insists on poking fun at Cooper’s clothes through other characters, mainly the villain Rayna. The upside to this is that we see how ridiculous it is to make fun of her clothes when either she has no choice about it, or because she is just dressing how other people expect her to (crazy cupcake necklace with a toggle system, seriously Agent Bradley Fine??? That’s your idea of a gift to someone you owe your life?). The many sides to Susan Cooper are probably better represented than a lot of women usually get in movies, from her sarcasm to intelligence to scary meanness to sweetness and fainting/vomiting at the sight of some gory things.
It was a chance to laugh, and a great one at that. It will probably be funny and entertaining for at least a few repeat viewings, which can’t be said for a lot of movies. Even though I objected to parts of it, I can’t deny the appeal of a comedy spy movie like it. Without films like it, our lives would be a lot more serious. Who wants that?