I met writer/director Paul Feig at a film convention in Las Vegas, and we had a great conversation about film. His second movie with Melissa McCarthy (afterBridesmaids) was The Heat. Audiences loved it. I didn’t. Aside from a few funny scenes, McCarthy was unlikable and not that funny.
This movie is going to be similar to The Heat in the fact that audiences will love it more than I did. Yet it had enough going for it that it gets a mild recommendation.
The first problem is that this is a spy spoof; mostly a James Bond spoof (the opening song/credit sequence, the various weapons, etc.). Not the most novel idea to spoof, especially when we had the brilliant Kingsman: The Secret Service a few months ago. The movie has some jokes that were in that, Top Secret, and Austin Powers; all parodies that were done better.
You get the premise clearly from the trailers. Susan Cooper (McCarthy) is a CIA analyst working in an office and helping Agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law) when he’s out in the field. He has a nasty tangle up with criminal Raina Boyanov (Rose Byrne), and because names get revealed, the CIA needs somebody that’s an unknown. Enter Cooper, who can wear a cat T-shirt, big glasses and hair, and look like an annoying aunt on vacation. She’s merely supposed to follow and report back, but things in spy flicks never work out that easily.
[I wonder why the last decade or so, when people do a spoof movie, the movie ends up becoming the exact film it’s spoofing (remember Kick-Ass?)]
There’s a nuclear bomb that might end up in the hands of terrorists. There’s a rogue agent, played by Jason Stratham. He steals ever scene he’s in, as he tries to work this detail, even though he quit after arguing with the boss (an always welcome Allison Janney).
When Janney first starts giving Cooper a hard time, it’s refreshing that it’s about her pink eye. This movie doesn’t rely on fat jokes. They joke about her having no field experience or her outfits, not her size.
Miranda Hart plays the friend/co-worker, who has a surprisingly large amount of unfunny lines.
Critics are praising the performance of Australian actress Rose Byrne, but most of her lines didn’t work, either; although a fight scene with her and McCarthy in a kitchen, rivals the hysterical slow-motion scene in the last X-men movie. It was brilliantly done.
And on the subject of critics, I’m baffled by this movie being ranked in the 90% range on Rotten Tomatoes. This is a rare comedy that both critics and audiences will love. The crowd at the screening I was at went nuts over this.
Bobby Cannavale has a few scenes as crime lord De Luca, who’s interested in buying the nuke.
Half of the lines rapper 50 Cent is given work.
Since the film is a spoof, you don’t have to worry about all the unrealistic things in it. Hell, if we can believe James Bond isn’t hit by machine gun fire, we can certainly look past that here. Yet for a spoof, it didn’t have as many laughs as it should’ve.
The set pieces were fun, but the story was a bit uneven.
The soundtrack was disappointing (aside from Mozart, and Karen O of the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs).
This gets 2 ½ stars out of 5 from me, but audiences will rank it higher.