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Movie review | Melissa McCarthy proves big-screen chops in ‘Spy’

A movie poster for “Spy.”
A movie poster for “Spy.”

Spy ****

Melissa McCarthy, the star of the new action comedy “Spy,” is just plain funny, and it’s more than her plus size. She creates a believable, self-deprecating, sympathetic character with equal parts tenacity, brains and physicality. It helps that the jokes are well-written and begs the question “Why is her television show, ‘Mike & Molly’ so god-awful?” (though she did win a Primetime Emmy for it).

She has roven big-screen appeal and was widely praised for her roles in “Bridesmaids” and the Sandra Bullock cop comedy “The Heat.” In “Spy” she’s CIA operative Susan Cooper, whose desk job is about to turn into a European field mission to retrieve a missing tactical suitcase nuke.

Jason Statham (“The Transporter,” “Fast and Furious: 7”) plays a parody of himself with some ridiculously bizarre dialog delivered through his tough-guy demeanor. McCarthy’s bestie and fellow CIA operative is played by an unusually tall and very funny Miranda Hart, a newcomer to the big screen with a lot of comic appeal.

Written and directed by Paul Feig, the director of “Bridesmaids” and “The Heat,” this newest effort furthers solidifies him as a studio money-maker. Feig wrote for “Arrested Development,” “The Office,” “30 Rock” and “Parks & Recreation.” Jude Law plays a Bond-like agent, and “Spy” pays plenty of homage to great spy films of the past.

What do those stars mean?

* Really, really, really bad. Don’t bother.

** Pretty bad, with one or more redeeming scenes.

*** Pretty good, but maybe not great, worth seeing for most

**** Really great, a winning combination of story, casting, and directing

***** The rarest gem, an all-around perfect motion picture

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