Themes: Body positivity; body acceptance; never judge a tiger by it’s stripes; cultural differences and exchanges; there’s treasure everywhere you look; dreamers and dream deferrers; belief in oneself; enjoying the ride no matter what happens; feminism and sexism.
I took a few additional moments to find as many of the themes in SPY as possible for two reasons: one, to challenge myself. And two, because this film is NOT your typical one horse slapstick or sketch comedy. Far from it in fact – and THAT is just part of what makes it fun, truly funny, and truly a joyous film for so many different demographics.
Now, let’s get started shall we? Oh and take a deep breath as you gaze upon Jude Law in what I believe is a Navy Blue Armani Navy Tuxedo! I mean the snazz in this film is OFF THE CHARTS to be fair!!! Jude Law, Jason Statham, Bobby Cannavale, AND Peter Serafinowicz?!?! WHEW!!! Ice bath!!! Ok ok ok back to the gloriousness that is the instant classic espionage parody known as SPY.
Aldo, Fine, Rayna, Ford, Fine, Nancy, De Luca, Sharon, and Cooper. Remember ALL of these names because without every single one of them SPY would not work! But thanks to them, it works and it works brilliantly!!!!!
In case you haven’t been able to ascertain SPY is a modern-day take on I-Spy, Airplane, and maybe even the old Pink Panther films. It’s a new take on an old story where we have the phenom known as Susan Cooper, a basement agent who is living vicariously through the eyes of the man she loves (from afar but hey) the daring, dashing, apparently completely clueless Bradley Fine. Things don’t quite go as planned and very soon into the film, we find our dahling Susan in the field on a reconnaissance only mission that very few people believe she can handle!
A couple of key things to note here, the duo of Statham (Ford) and McCarthy (Cooper) is absolutely side-splitting!!! I screened this film THREE times. Why?!?! Because it’s hilarious so much so that the first two times we saw it, I laughed far too much and far too hard to legitimately be able to take notes and focus on my key pointes!
Ford is literally this over the top über spy that if you listen to him long enough you’ll realise in all his hyperbole that not only is he apparently walking around with a permanent concussion, but that his egoism is something that clearly should have gotten him killed – and you find yourself trying to figure out why on EARTH he hasn’t been!!!
Then we have the connections between Cooper and Nancy, who has now become the lifeline for Coop; that Coop was for Fine! And. Nancy has a ton more faith in Coop than Coop has in herself but it’s not necessarily for the reasons one might suspect!
You literally feel like between earpiece and spy gadgets that Nancy being Coop’s biggest cheerleader is to the advantage of all involved (well maybe except for Rayna lol). There literally feels like a tether exists between these two superstar women holding them and all the scenes they’re in together even if they’re not physically in the same space!!!
I cannot even begin to stress enough that you have to look at this film as a PARODY because that’s what it is. But that doesn’t take away from the experience because it’s a FANTASTIC one!
There are such fluid connections and moments that you have to remind yourself are meant to be superfluous for a reason: It’s a brilliantly fun film! It’s so very much about not only having faith in oneself. But also having cheerleaders whom genuinely not only know you’re capable of such great things but that they expect these great things from you on a regular basis.
I love how Crocker (Allison Janney) does her homework on Cooper rather than do the typical judging a book by its cover cliché that the world we live in puts forth far too often. Crocker gives Cooper instructions that honestly there’s NO way she can follow, and Crocker knows that even if Cooper does not. People often set for arbitrary finish lines in our lives knowing full well we are capable of crossing that finish line and running another few laps. You can start to see the confidence others have in Cooper manifest in not only her confidence level, but her movements, cunning, and finesse!
I literally could not have seen anyone else be chosen for the role of Rayna. Rose Byrne? I always enjoyed her take on her roles, she has this sort of whimsical soothing nature that you can be drawn to and it’s nearly always an enjoyable experience.
Let me clear this up now, because when Rayna uses the word “fuqqery” to describe the mayhem that is going on all around her it was clearly a #LIFERECEIVED moment for everyone in my viewing group!
Rayna is blatantly gruff, clueless, and flashy even when she has the moments of pot meet kettle – like calling Rome tacky and constantly demanding that Susan upgrade the clothes she’s wearing and dress like a normal person, etc. Never mind that Rayna’s hair was clearly sculpted by rats while she slept!
I love how you see Rayna and Susan’s relationship evolve into something surprisingly supportive. Rose Byrne is amazing and uncanny in her ability to portray a pompous arse the entire film and yet when it’s all over she and Cooper have an endearing moment. Well…sort of.
I desperately needed more screen time from Bobby Cannavale (De Luca)! Not only is he handsome and charming, but he’s a lovely sort of delirium on-screen in his avant-garde, flamboyant, deliciously bi-sexual sort of way.
He drives a $500,000 car named Renaldo and walks with a cane he clearly doesn’t need. He’s literally the perfect parody of the “King of his castle villain” that we’ve all seen and quite possibly adored at one time or another in our cinematic lives. And he’s an absolute treasure that I genuinely wish had more screen time because he owns it when he’s on it!
And Nancy (Miranda Hart) and 50 Cent (AKA FIDDY)?!?! Their interactions are hilarious on camera so I can only imagine what it was like between takes! In fact I suspect this entire shooting schedule had to have mini “hysterics breaks” in between takes because there are more than a few dialogues where you know all the players are fighting for their lives to hold it together and keep the takes from adding up! But sometimes it’s simply not possible no matter what and I know those moments were a blast for the cast and crew.
Just when you thought that there would be a slight lull in the film, in arrives literally like a wrecking ball (sorry Miley) is Aldo played phenomenally well by Peter Serafinowicz. He is Susan’s contact in Rome, and rather than be the typical Italian super charming parody, Aldo is blatantly sexist and so volcanic when his attention is focused on Susan, that you literally want to slap him and kiss him (ok more than a few times) all at once!
Aldo is such a key to this puzzle, because while Susan is undoubtedly the spider at the centre of the web, he is her anchor in that he serves to continue to build her confidence in her abilities and to grow her self-esteem to be WAY high! Aldo’s sexism is such on display but you watch Susan handle him so adeptly that even though he never underestimates her in ANY way, the tongue thrashing she gives him for his overtures makes you think that he has.
He sees her so different from how she initially sees herself. His being grabby and clearly a candidate for a sexual harassment lawsuit isn’t something that takes away from what Cooper is trying to accomplish, nor does it take away from the film in any way either. We find ourselves enjoying Aldo, even as we continue to fight he and all of his grabby hands off! You know, the sort that’s harmless yet oh so helpful! lol!
Nothing. It’s like I stated earlier, without having ALL the players in this film, it would not work. Because we do have all of them, it works brilliantly and entertainingly well. All of these people literally are key parts of Susan Cooper’s web, and her handling it one situation at a time and always thinking on her feet means that as the film progresses, they’re strengthening it fibre by fibre.
If you walk into the theatre preparing to see James Bond as opposed to Susan Cooper, you’re doing yourself a disservice because Cooper, Susan Cooper, is so much more fun and enigmatic than any old Bond. Bond is the debonair, while Coop is the dynamic unforeseen, invisible twist the makes SPY so much more of a rip-roaring, side-splitting EXPERIENCE than a film.
#SheCritiquesIt #WhatWorks #WhatDoesNot
A Spellbinding, Mesmerizing, Life Changing, History Making, MAGICAL FILM! And YES, She Critiques It!
Our Resident Movie Reviewer Joyll Cambridge hails from Manchester, United Kingdom and currently lives in New York, New York. She loves all things movies, fitness and swirling. To read Joyll’s personal blog at The Humanist Exec, click here.
Be sure to “Like” The Swirl World on Facebook and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.
You can also follow us on Sound Cloud and listen to the show on Stitcher Radio. You can also hear us on PlayerFM!
Copyright ©2015 Michelle Matthews Calloway, ASwirlGirl™, The Swirl World™, The Swirl World Podcast™, The Swirl World Inspiration Daily™, Swirl Nation™, All rights reserved. Photo of Joyll Cambridge used with permission. Movie poster of SPY (2015) obtained from official Facebook page. All rights reserved.