Mission: Hilarious

Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) races to stop a deadly arms dealer.

Spy

Starring Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Jude Law & Rose Byrne

Directed by Paul Feig

R

Finally, Melissa McCarthy has struck gold — in a movie that gives her everything she needs to shine as the movie comedy star she was meant to be.

After a promising debut in the supporting cast of the 2011 breakout hit Bridesmaids, the Mike and Molly TV star shared the billing with Sandra Bullock in The Heat (2013) but couldn’t quite get the traction she needed in the sputtering, sophomoric gags of Identity Thief (2013) and Tammy (2014). But this hilarious spy-spoof-ish espionage romp marks her ascension to bona fide marquee status.

And she makes the most of every minute of it as Susan Cooper, a CIA operative toiling away in the bowels of the bureau, feeding intel into the ear of dashing field agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law) as he trots about the globe on his 007-ish assignments. But when Fine disappears, Susan is selected by her boss (Allison Janey) to go undercover and pick up the trail of his latest mission.

Excited to finally be a real spy, she’s a bit underwhelmed by the frumpiness of her bureau-issued disguises, and her customized gadgets disguised as rape whistles, super-size hemorrhoid pads and stool softeners.

“I’m just missing a shirt that says, ‘I’VE NEVER FELT THE TOUCH OF A MAN,’” she sighs.

And she’s told, in no uncertain terms, to only observe — to stay out of sight and to “not engage.” Of course, that doesn’t happen.

Rose Byrne, one of McCartney’s Bridemaids’ co-stars, is superb as a frosty Bulgarian arms smuggler. Bobby Cannavale plays a double-dealing weapons trader. Jason Statham, with a send-up wink to the tough-guy roles into which he’s usually cast, has a blast as a ridiculously rough, gruff veteran agent who resents Susan’s intrusion on his turf — and who can’t stop reminding her about his mucho macho espionage exploits. “I once drove a car off a freeway on top of train while I was on fire,” he says during a sidesplitting litany of his death-defying derring-do.

A couple of lesser-known actors also get plenty of room to bring the funny. As Susan’s CIA backup, gangly British actress Miranda Hart becomes an integral part of the second half of the movie — and brings some huge laughs. Same for Peter Serafinowicz, another Brit, who’s had small parts in dozens of TV shows and films. You may not remember him from any of them, but you’ll certainly remember him as Aldo, the amorous Italian with the roving hands — and some other skills, too!

The cast is first-rate all around, but the movie truly belongs to McCartney, whose synergy with writer-director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat) is clearly firing on all cylinders. The dialog sparkles and zings, the scenes deliver one-after-another ka-pow punches of laughter and action, and the performances are fine-tuned bits of comedic, clockwork perfection.

McCartney both keeps it anchored and sends it soaring, with fresh, feisty slaps of unbridled, R-rated fun and a message of female empowerment set against a rolling backdrop of scenery in Paris, Budapest and Rome.

Spy sends Susan Cooper around the world, and it brings Melissa McCartney up to where she belongs, to the top of the movie-comedy heap.