Spy (USA, 2015)

spyDirected by: Paul Feig. In my month-long quest to inject some levity into my watching (and knowing that I want to tackle some more of Shoah pretty soon), I canvassed Google for some suggestions of classic, unmissable, universally-beloved comedies. So far, it’s been pretty good: Return of the Pink  Panther wasn’t as good as I’d hoped, but not bad; The Great Dictator was huge on significance and the laughs were huge too; and Best in Show was completely hilarious too. But as always, I was laying heavy emphasis on old stuff—comedies that had proven themselves “worthy”—avoiding recent comedies like the plague that I’ve grown conditioned to expect they all are (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C, just for starters). So I don’t know what it was, maybe I was just tired of shutting off the ever-flowing fountain of new stuff, maybe it was the memory of how funny Bridesmaids was, maybe it was the promise I could see that Melissa McCarthy was bound to have an amazing leading role. If I’m being honest, though, it was the fact that I love spy movies, I love dumb parodies, and this is a parody of spy movies with Jude Law and Jason Statham. How could I resist? I was totally on board for this movie, and I really enjoyed it, basically all of it. Some of it wasn’t as funny as other parts, but I don’t remember any cringe moments, and I think this is the appeal of Paul Feig for a lot of people. For some reason, modern comedy couldn’t figure out a way to make something funny, even while taking on board modern irreverence and foul language and gross-out humour and sex jokes, etc, without dropping the gender norms, homophobia, objectification of women, racial stereotyping, and a generally stunted teenage dude-bro world outlook to every fucking movie. I’m sure you can make the argument that this is still within that pocket because Melissa McCarthy could only appear as the lead in a jokey, self-deprecating movie, in a comedic context, where everything can be laughed off. But trust me, folks, in that stunted teenage dude-bro outlook, there is no space, I mean NO space, for even a short fat man as the lead player, and absolutely no space for a short fat woman as a lead. In any one of those other movies, the only women allowed on screen are over-the-top gorgeous supermodel-looking women. In The Internship, for example, Rose Byrne appears, but she’s the regular, dowdy, office-working domestic true-romance love interest, and in that movie she looked basically the same as she does playing the high-class femme fatale in this movie. The fact that this movie exists is already a huge victory, and the fact that everybody involved was so awesome in it, and the fact that this movie is really really funny, is a huge victory too. I remember as a kid, feeling it to be a commonplace sentiment that women were not and could not be funny, as a law of nature with a few isolated exceptions here and there. And I guess there’s still a big chunk of folks who still aren’t persuaded, judging by the ridiculous and vocal backlash against the all-female Ghostbusters (which by the way, is so extremely divisive that I think I’ll have to see it for myself, even though I suspect it’s kind of not that great just on the grounds of being a remake). Anyway, the actual film itself is hilarious, Melissa McCarthy holds this thing down (that great line about a “limp-dick unicorn” still cracks me up), and I could watch Jason Statham spout outrageous and implausible tough-guy action-star lines all damn day. “I make a habit of doing things other people say I can’t do: walk through fire, waterski blindfolded, take up piano at a late age.”

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4 responses to “Spy (USA, 2015)

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