In 'Spy,' Melissa McCarthy Receives Top-Billing. Finally. NPR film critic Bob Mondello says Spy is a generous, smart, sexy comedy, surrounding a generous, smart, sexy star. It was a long time coming, but it was worth the wait.
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In 'Spy,' Melissa McCarthy Receives Top-Billing. Finally.

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In 'Spy,' Melissa McCarthy Receives Top-Billing. Finally.

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In 'Spy,' Melissa McCarthy Receives Top-Billing. Finally.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The first time Melissa McCarthy worked with director Paul Feig, she had a bit part in his comedy "Bridesmaids." The second time they worked together in the police comedy "The Heat" McCarthy got equal billing with co-star Sandra Bullock. Well, today, the movie "Spy" opens with McCarthy finally billed over the title. Critic Bob Mondello says writer-director Feig has crafted a globetrotting action comedy that proves to be an ideal star-vehicle.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: CIA agent Susan Cooper may have graduated at the top of her class, but 10 years in, she's at the bottom of the espionage heap, literally in a vermin-infested basement, surrounded by high-tech surveillance gear, talking into another agent's earpiece half a world away.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SPY")

JUDE LAW: (As Bradley) No keys, Coop.

MELISSA MCCARTHY: (As Susan) You can hot-wire it.

LAW: (As Bradley) I can't get to the wires.

MCCARTHY: (As Susan) OK. Then stay down and hold your ears.

LAW: (As Bradley) Oh, how I hear your beautiful voice.

MCCARTHY: (As Susan) Stop being adorable and get down. Fire, now.

MONDELLO: Indispensable and unsung, her guidance is what makes this guy, played by Jude Law, a 007 of sorts.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SPY")

LAW: (As Bradley) Nice drum work, Coop. I could kiss you.

MCCARTHY: (As Susan): Oh (laughter), well, I would - I would accept that with an open mouth.

MONDELLO: Melissa McCarthy's Agent Cooper may be his secret weapon. But like the rest of the agency, he condescends to her, and that's still true when an assassin blows everyone else's cover and the agency needs someone unknown to track a nuclear device. Coop plans the assignment but not the glamour. Her alias, frumpy housewife from Iowa. Her secret gadgets, things a frumpy housewife from Iowa might carry in her purse.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SPY")

MICHAEL MCDONALD: (As Patrick) Each of these are filled with chloroform.

MCCARTHY: (As Susan) Wow, that is an unsettling amount of hemorrhoid wipes. Makes me kind of wonder what exactly is going on back there.

MCDONALD: (As Patrick) I wouldn't know. I don't have the problem.

MCCARTHY: (As Susan) I don't have that problem.

MONDELLO: Happily out in the field, Coop comes into her own, glamming herself up on her own dime and going head-to-head with Rose Byrne's femme fatale...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SPY")

ROSE BYRNE: (As Rayna) You're delightful.

MCCARTHY: (As Susan) As are you.

MONDELLO: ...While fighting off help from Jason Statham's meathead of an ally...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SPY")

MCCARTHY: (As Susan) (Unintelligible).

JASON STATHAM: (As Rick) I'm saving you.

MONDELLO: ...And fending off an amorous CIA driver.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SPY")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As Character) (Unintelligible). Hey, como estas?

MONDELLO: Paul Feig's cheerfully feminist script makes only as much sense as it absolutely has to while providing McCarthy with chances to crack wise, show vulnerability and class and do some of the more elegant pratfalls you'll have seen in a while, always in character. And though "Spy" has clearly been designed around her talents, it also makes room for a nifty supporting cast - Allison Janney, 50 Cent and Miranda Hart as a slender Laurel to McCarthy's full-figured Hardy, both of them a little envious of a more glamorous agent.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SPY")

MIRANDA HART: (As Nancy) Karen Walker, super spy (laughter) - perfect hair, perfect face. She probably cries herself to sleep every night.

MCCARTHY: (As Susan) I don't think she probably does.

HART: (As Nancy) She probably does. And not, like, sort of cute, little tears, like, but really sort of, you know, silent, kind of big - (crying).

MCCARTHY: (As Susan) I don't...

HART: (As Nancy) Like sort of an upside down kidney bean (crying). This is what I look like when I'm asleep.

MCCARTHY: (As Susan) Shut up, Nancy. Shut up. Be quiet.

MORENA BACCARIN: (As Karen) Hi. Hey, Nancy. Hi, Susan.

HART: (As Nancy) Hi.

MCCARTHY: (As Susan) Hi.

MONDELLO: In short, "Spy" is not a solo show. It's a generous, smart, sexy comedy surrounding this generous, smart, sexy star and about time, too. I'm Bob Mondello.

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