Film No 20 (2015) : Spy

spyWell, who’d have thought it? Fat people can be good at their jobs. Amazing isn’t it?

What’s more, they can fall in love with beautiful people, like CIA agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law). Jeez, talk about Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) punching above her not inconsiderable weight. Don’t worry though, just in case anyone in the film audience might be misled into thinking that the most corpulent member of the CIA office team may be able to make a positive contribution to the protection of national security, we will put her into an array of unflattering, stereo-typed and ridiculous characters when she goes undercover. Tell you what, we will also contrast her with several stick-thin actresses just to push the point home. Yet, Susan Cooper still comes out on top. Despite being a lump.

Do I sound scathing? More than a little. My co-viewers accused me of over-analysing. Maybe I am a little hyper-sensitive being of the chunky monkey variety myself, but my son did concede that ‘Spy’ would not have worked, been anywhere near as funny, had Susan Cooper been a breadstick.

Susan Cooper is the voice in Fine’s ear. Using advanced technology, she is able to track and monitor the agent’s precise location and direct him out of danger. When Fine is killed in action, Cooper persuades her boss Elaine (Alison Janney) to let her go undercover to hunt out the villains. The mission takes Cooper to Paris, Rome and Budapest as she is sent to track and report on the movements of Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne) and Sergio De Luca (Bobby Cannavale). Having not been out in the field for some time, Cooper’s skills are rusty, but she grows in confidence and before long is wielding pistols and hanging off helicopters with the best of them.

I am not daft enough not to be able to see the comedy value of the film. It has a smart script, peppered with witty one-liners and quotable moments. It also has an array of glorious characters, particularly the wonderfully ambigious Aldo (Peter Serafinowicz) and egotistical braggart Rick Ford (Jason Statham). The settings are glamorous and some of the action sequences nail-bitingly brilliant; notably, a fight between Cooper and Lia (Nargis Fakhri) in a hotel kitchen, where the choreography is stunning, a decent car chase and several exciting punch-ups. Miranda Hart stars as Nancy but to my mind, she is one of those actors (along with Hugh Grant, Bill Nighy and Billy Connolly) who just play themselves all the time.

‘Spy’ will make you laugh. I just couldn’t get over the insidious underlying messages. To me, laughing at fat people is a cheap gag.

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