Paul Feig, the director who made Melissa McCarthy a star with Bridesmaids, has finally written his own script for his muse — his first screenplay in twelve years. In Spy, McCarthy is soft, feminine, and smart. For a dinner with her CIA co-worker and crush Bradley Fine (Jude Law), her character, Susan Cooper, curls her hair, perfects her makeup, and wears a tasteful amber dress. The cruel joke is it doesn't matter. Bradley gifts her a plastic cupcake necklace and cackles, "It's so you!" It isn't. Like movie producers, he sees only her weight, not the dignified woman inside. And the punchline is that Susan allows the insult, passively slipping on the monstrosity, and later, after Bradley is executed by Bulgarian arms dealer Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne), clutching it at his funeral.
Susan begs to take Bradley's place in Paris to monitor Rayna's nuclear sales, and it's no spoiler to say she winds up on top. Yet Spy isn't a revenge fantasy -- Susan isn't petty. It's a comedy of exasperation where, for once, the joke isn't on McCarthy, but on everyone who can't see her skills. Spy is a call to arms for the cowed and a riotous skewering of the workplace kings.
It's funny, too. Every role is perfectly constructed, from Peter Serafinowicz's handsy Italian agent to lanky Miranda Hart as Susan's officemate and bumbling best friend. The biggest brute is boneheaded fellow spy Rick Ford (Jason Statham), who dismisses Susan as a "lunch lady." Even Rayna's goons get in a few good cracks before they're dispatched, while Rayna herself is a magnificent concoction: Marie Antoinette by way of Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface.