‘Spy’ Review: A Brilliant Showcase for Melissa McCarthy

March 16, 2015 11:09 AM

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‘Spy’ Review: A Brilliant Showcase for Melissa McCarthy

If recent misfires like “Tammy” and “Identity Thief” have proved anything, it’s that Melissa McCarthy is virtually indestructible, retaining her comic buoyancy, her tremendous likability and much of her fan base even when stuck with bargain-basement material. All of which makes it even more gratifying to see what she can do with a vehicle that’s firing on all cylinders for a change. In “Spy,” an uproarious blast of globe-trotting action-comedy delirium that doesn’t spoof the espionage-thriller genre so much as drop a series of banana peels in its path, McCarthy plays an eager-to-please desk jockey turned full-blown CIA operative who learns to wield a gun as skillfully as she does a one-liner — a dazzling transformation that represents the actress’s smartest, funniest, most versatile and fully sustained bigscreen showcase to date. Unsurprisingly, her key collaborator here is once again Paul Feig, who directed her to such show-stopping effect in “Bridesmaids” and “The Heat,” and Fox’s May 22 release will more than earn its place in the company of those past summer hits.

If “The Heat” (2013) placed its righteous gender politics front and center, pairing McCarthy with Sandra Bullock as a happy corrective to the male-dominated buddy-comedy tradition, then “Spy,” a vastly richer and more intricately conceived piece of work, succeeds in scoring a subtler representationa...

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