SPY REVIEW

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I Spy a surprisingly entertaining comedy.

A desk-bound CIA analyst (Melissa McCarthy) volunteers to go undercover to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer (Rose Byrne), and prevent diabolical global disaster.

McCarthy takes on the spy genre and it’s everything you could expect. If you’re a fan, that is.

I love McCarthy. The Heat was one of the funniest films I’ve seen in quite some time. BUT then she made Tammy. A major step backwards. When I first saw trailers for Spy, I feared the worst.

And as the opening sequence began, my anxieties were justified. Jude Law’s Bond doppelganger Bradley Fine (Nicely done) was certainly entertaining enough. Delivering the naff punch lines with a cheeky wink.

McCarthy’s analyst commentary was a little flat. Her swooning over Fine was a little bland for my liking. And when their room was infiltrated by a swarm of bats from the ventilation shaft, I could feel my hopes fading fast. Not even Miranda Hart was doing it for me. (Comedically speaking. Oh, grow up).

And the opening theme song was awful. Clearly a homage to the classic Bond movies BUT they could have made the song funny or done a proper one. A little weak. Sung well though.

BUT as soon McCarthy was brought into the fold, things got a lot better and a whole lot funnier. The supporting cast were a mixed bag in every which way.

I really thought Miranda Hart would be a lot more irritating. I loved the first series of her self-titled sitcom Miranda but she soon regurgitated the same old spiel for two more series and really killed off the buzz. She was excellent. I expected a lot more silly buffoonery and endless collapsing with the occasional faint spell. There was only one moment where she got carried away as a bodyguard.

Otherwise, she came out with some corkers and worked really well with McCarthy. The pair complimented each other perfectly. And Hart’s unexpected hook up with a celebrity rapper was the most random and funniest thing I’ve seen in some time. NO SPOILERS on the rapper but what a good sport.

Jason Statham. Where do I begin? I have never lost the faith with the Stath. If I was wearing a hat, I would take it off to the chap. It’s great when you get to that stage in your career that you can play a parody of yourself. He was hilarious. Imagine Jay from the Inbetweeners with spy status. His endless BS and bizarre stories that get crazier by the minute had me in stitches.

His endless attempts to swoop in and save the day and belittling put downs on McCarthy took things up a notch when the film seemed to get a little too bogged down with the story. He was like a Crank-ed up Clousseau. A completely different side to the British bad ass.

Rose Byre looked stunning (if a little thin) as the villainous Rayna Boyanov. Even with a strange bee hive on her head. Cue endless one liners from McCarthy on that one. Her put downs with Byrne were great. “Did your father get you to dress like a slutty dolphin instructor?”.

McCarthy’s reactions and improvised banter got a lot more laughs than I expected. Sometimes when she is let loose, it can be very hit and miss. Most notably when she tries to play the tough guy. BUT her confrontation with a Swedish contact reduced him to tears and me. Fantastic.

There were so many set pieces. And the stunts were not bad. If anything, they were relentless. Seriously, Paul Feig wasn’t afraid to throw some carnage in there. The pieces were made better by the fact that McCarthy was doing them.

Her normal woman spiel really worked for this film and balanced the ludicrous humour and mad set pieces. When she tries to jump into a scooter and tumbles over, it shouldn’t have worked as much as it did but I was in stitches. “Why do you have a roof on these things? Who do you think you are? The Pope!”

I couldn’t believe that a certain Ukrainian dance group that featured in Eurovision a few years back made an appearance during a Parisian gig sequence. No spoilers. *Cough* DANZEN! *Cough*

Peter Serafinowicz (Shaun of the Dead) was great as the eccentric Italian contact, Aldo. His infatuation and sexual advances on McCarthy’s Susan. Words escape me.

However, there were a few things that let the side down.

Morena Baccarin (Homeland) was reduced to a nothingy role. Merely the spy candy that Hart and McCarthy despise. She didn’t look even that great and her character was highly unmemorable.

Bobby Cannavale managed to make more of a impression with his weak Bond villain in the fiery finale. For most of the film, he was non-existent. His mincing about in a pursuit chase did get a chuckle.

Alison Janney’s hard ass CIA boss role was so bland. It only worked because she would pass McCarthy’s new identities. Seriously every one brought a smile.

The story was weak. The whole double crossing/triple crossing spiel was predictable. It may have happily poked fun at the endless spy plots from yonder years but it wasn’t really that interesting and slackened the pace and killed the jokes.

It was OTT, manic, random BUT funny which covered the dud gags (which there weren’t a lot) and to be honest, those two hours flew by and I came out smiling.

Mission Accomplished, Ms McCarthy

3.5/5 (Just)

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*THROWBACK REVIEW* TAMMY

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Oh my . . . what went wrong? Now I’m a big fan of Melissa McCarthy. She has proven time and time again to deliver the funny. Breaking through with the mega-hit Bridesmaids; McCarthy has excelled. Her projects may lack in story and plot but always deliver in laughs. The Heat was exceptionally good. Mike and Molly on the other hand, is another story.

Now along comes Tammy. I watched the heavily plugged restaurant robbery trailer scene and had my doubts. However, that scene still got a guilty giggle. McCarthy poking fun at her figure while pulling funny faces seemed a little lazy. If I had known, that would be the best bit in the film, I would have skipped this altogether.

What it’s all about? After losing her job and learning that her husband has been unfaithful, Tammy hits the road with her profane, hard-drinking grandmother.

It doesn’t last long at the box office and unfortunately (this time) I can see why. BUT it’s not all bad. McCarthy carries the film as best she can. Her crazy dance moves, her snappy one liners are all there. However, her character is at times, very irritating. I actually found her voice grating on me. Shame.

Also I couldn’t help but feel that Tammy’s character was a rip off of Diana in The Identity Thief. Come to think of it, the entire film felt like a slight rip off of Identity Thief but a whole lot weaker and a lot less funny. And let’s be honest, The Identity Thief wasn’t perfect.

Susan Sarandon was fantastic and proved to be game for a laugh. Her alcoholic grandmother proved to be a great supporting character that worked really well with McCarthy. A perfect pairing.

If not for Sarandon, the little laughs that there were, would have been a whole lot less. However, their dream partnership didn’t really shine as much as you would hope. Their insults and banter drew the odd titter and at times, there were some genuine moments but you couldn’t help but want more.

Another problem for me was the pace and the change in tone. Tammy chugged along, at some points at a snail’s pace. Then out of nowhere after the film takes a more serious route, as if realising there isn’t enough gags to keep the questionable length going.

Understandably, McCarthy’s monstrous character must inevitably confront her inner demons and deal with her fractious relationship with her grandmother but it lacked the laughs and the drama to pull off the serious angle. It goes for sheer crazy with our dysfunctional Thelma and Louise performing ridiculous (but funny) robberies to mowing down deers and then deadpan serious and it just doesn’t work or gel properly.

The finale was surprisingly sobering and very unfunny which left me feeling . . . meh, really. All too corny and abrupt. It’s a shame especially with the cast that McCarthy had at her fingertips. They were left playing really flat and uninteresting supporting roles. Dan Ackroyd, Toni Collette and Sandra Oh played characters that any Tom, Dick or . . . Harriett could have played.

Alison Janney and Kathy Bates were the more memorable roles that managed to make an impression. It was great to see Gary “Office Space” Cole playing a sleazeball yet again but even he wasn’t that memorable or interesting. And that is the main problem with all the potential, bar a couple of funny moments, it’s all uninteresting, flat and unmemorable. I will take this as a blip but expecting better things to come from Miss McCarthy.

2 (just) out of 5