Most of us know the elements/cliches of the James Bond-type spy: expensive clothing, beautiful women, international travel, elaborate fights, rogue agents, complex villainous plots.  But what happens when someone who's not quite ready gets put into that world?  That's the beginnings of Spy, a comedy from writer-director Paul Feig that has a lot of fun and laughs skewering these familiar espionage trappings.

Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) trained to be a field agent for the CIA, but she wound up sitting at a computer in a vermin-infested basement, giving information to super-suave field agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law).  Susan has a huge crush on him, while he takes her for granted: having her take care of his personal tasks, giving her a tacky cupcake necklace instead of jewelry, etc.  His current mission is tracking Rayna Boyanov (Rose Bryne), who has a portable nuclear bomb for sale, and Sergio De Luca (Bobby Cannavale), who's brokering the sale.  But it's not long before Rayna kills Bradley and reveals that she knows the identity of all the CIA's biggest field agents.  So Susan has an idea: Send her into the field, where she can follow and track Rayan and hopefully find the nuke.

At first Susan's assignment is a huge letdown -- she has a series of frumpy cover identities and embarrassing special gear -- but soon she's kicking ass, cursing up a storm, and getting in deeper and deeper with killers.  Complicating her assignment is big-talking CIA agent Rick Ford (Jason Statham), who's somewhat inept and prone to rambling about the horrors he's endured as a spy.  And she's "helped" by her nervous friend Nancy (Miranda Hall) and randy agent Aldo (Peter Serafinowicz) who never stops groping or hitting on Susan.

There is a lot to enjoy in Spy.  Feig has worked with McCarthy and Byrne before, and her gets terrific comic performances out of both of them: McCarthy is terrific as she transitions from a fish out of water to her own super-agent, while Byrne gets plenty of laughs as the delicate, spoiled, arrogant slightly European villainess.  Statham is especially great as self-proclaimed rogue agent who never stops spouting exaggerations about his work; and Allison Janney has a brief-but-funny turn as the head of the CIA.  The writing treats the spy movie elements with both affection and awareness of its silliness; and while there are a few lulls, the humor is pretty consistent throughout the movie.  Spy is a nice bit of comedy fun for the summer.

Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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