We had a busy weekend out-of-town but slid back just in time to make it to the drive-in and give this one the eyeball.
You know what I liked about this movie? A lot, actually. First, it’s not a spoof. Don’t call it a spoof. It’s a legit action movie that happens to also be funny. Second, it’s not funny because Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is bad at her job. She’s a top agent, extremely competent if somewhat reluctant. It’s funny because she’s not quite got that James Bond suaveness down pat – she still gets a kick out globe-trotting and being upgraded to premium economy. She hasn’t let the whole spy thing go to her head. Third, it’s not just the hero who’s a female – so is her sidekick (Miranda Hart) and her adversary (Rose Byrne), and they’re all great.
Its highest gear isn’t quite comparable to what Daniel Craig is doing over at Spectre, but there’s a kitchen knife fight that’s pretty intense and you can tell that a lot of work went into its choreography. McCarthy gets to stretch some muscles she hasn’t used in a while with a versatile performance rather than a crude caricature. But the greatest treat is that she’s isn’t funny alone; Feig has this great trickle-down effect where he expects everyone to get laughs, and they do, even the cutaway character reaction shots. The best laughs, though, probably come at the expense of Jason Statham, who welcomes them. Nobody else could have played it so well because the jokes don’t just hit back at the manly superagent type, but also specifically at Statham’s career, and he’s game. Obscenely game! And while McCarthy is undoubtedly the star, Feig gives everyone a chance to shine, because if funny is good, then very funny is very good.
Big applause to Paul Feig for being the only one who can truly write for Melissa McCarthy – and that includes McCarthy herself. In anyone else’s hands she turns into a clown. A big, crass joke who’s too obnoxious to appreciate. Feig doesn’t need to humiliate her. He elevates her with the right element, the right foil, and with good writing and the right context, she makes the movie sparkle, and she led this one right to the top of the box office this weekend, smoked right by those Entourage boys like the badass she is.