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Spy (AF)


Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Jude Law, Rose Byrne, Miranda Hart, Bobby Cannavale, Allison Janney, Peter Serafinowicz, Morena Baccarin

Director: Paul Feig

I agree with my esteemed colleague David Quinlan.

I too was terrified when I thought I saw Dawn French in Vicar of Dibley mode suddenly turn up on screen. It seemed incredible that so assured a comedy director as Paul Feig (with Bridesmaids to his credit) could have picked French for an unbilled comic turn that wasn’t funny.

Fortunately (and I imagine he’s been luckier than I have been and avoided seeing any episodes of television’s Dibley) Feig must have been happy with the wig and costume that briefly transforms Melissa McCarthy in long shot into French.

Better still, McCarthy is genuinely funny and splendidly silly as a deskbound CIA analyst who is promoted to secret agent and sent undercover to Europe in a series of weird and wonderful disguises (“I look like someone’s homophobic aunt” she rightly complains at one stage) to save the world from a deadly arms dealer after Jude Law, the super-secret agent she worked with, goes missing.

Feig’s gag-filled screenplay raises laughs galore. Credibility isn’t the key here. Instead one loony, frequently lewd and crude comic situation follows another with Feig’s fast-paced direction leaving few lacunae between the laughs.

Key casting is spot-on.

Law, sporting a splendid hairpiece, wickedly sends up 007 (he’s the most amusing James Bond type since the curious case of James Bond when he was unfortunately impersonated by George Lazenby in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service).

Miranda Hart is terrific as McCarthy’s desk-bound pal who joins her friend in Europe. A new daffy double act is born.

Jason Statham demonstrates an unexpectedly funny talent for being funny, and there are spot-on contributions from Peter Serafinowicz as a randy Italian, Rose Byrne and Alison Janney

Don’t expect anything intellectual (although there are a couple of subtitles featured). This is simply a splendidly inventive crazy comedy to be enjoyed without hunting for a subtext.

(Although, come to think of it, there actually is a possible subtext – if you build it, they will come).

Alan Frank

USA 2015. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Technicolor.
120 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 03 Jun 2015