Melissa McCarthy, it emerged with last summer’s horrifically crude but shamefully unfunny vanity project Tammy, has no range. This fact is compounded even further in Spy, a film with substantially more merit due to the track record of writer/director Paul Feig- the man responsible for 2013’s The Heat, one of the best comedies of recent years and a perfect 2-hour display of McCarthy’s legitimate talent- but not a second more hilarity than was to be found in Tammy. For Spy, from its infuriatingly vague title to its uninspired casting (how many films can Rose Byrne and Booby Cannavale appear in together? Seriously!), is a broad comedy to its core, a film with no soul but a lot of crowd-pleasing mediocrity and cultural references clichéd enough for a 10-year old child to appreciate. McCarthy’s early charade of playing, for once, the straight woman is dropped completely halfway through as she lapses once again into her typical SHOUTING SWEARING SEX JOKE shtick, and becomes no more a unique female comedian presence than those social nuisances Amy Schumer and Rebel Wilson. Rose Byrne, arguably the film’s one solidly strong aspect, gets the few decent jokes in the script for herself, leaving McCarthy trailing in the dust with a look of genuine desperation on her face.
Also joining McCarthy for “the fun, the LOLz, the quirky adventures” are Jude Law, Allison Janney and three very different British talents: Jason Statham, one of the most purely delightful Hollywood stars of out time, is shamefully under-utilised in a bit role, with his character reduced to fleeting cameo, not entirely unlike his purpose in this year’s Furious 7. Miranda Hart, someone who has poisoned British television with her humourless dross for several years, is given a much bigger part than Statham. For that decision alone, all our respect for Feig goes out the window. Peter Serafinowicz is wedged into a role so poorly conceived one imagines it came from a fridge crayon drawing, and it’s unlikely he’ll be offered any more comedic roles soon.
The film’s horrifically mainstream nature, something The Heat was able to overcome with wit, charm and Boston grit, is epitomised in an extended cameo from 50 Cent, an artist who has not only obviously been paid a fortune to appear, but who hasn’t really been relevant in mainstream popular culture for around a decade. Spy shall be forgotten by most, and shelved alongside similarly unmemorable spoofs like Johnny English and i-Spy. As for Feig and McCarthy’s upcoming Ghostbusters reboot, somebody at Universal needs to offer Bill Murray a very, very big cheque as soon as possible.