The last time Melissa McCarthy headlined a big-screen comedy it was "Tammy", and... *rocks back and forth under the shower*

Thankfully, "Spy" marks a return to form for the actor, who reunites with her "Bridesmaids" director Paul Feig to deliver a very funny, very inventive spoof on the spy genre.

McCarthy stars as Susan Cooper who, despite being scary-capable as a CIA field operative, spends her time parked at a desk, calling the plays for super agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law). He gets all the glory and she gets all the, well, not that. But when Fine is seemingly murdered in cold blood by the big-haired villainess Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne), Cooper -- armed with increasingly bad (and hilarious) false identities -- is sent out into the field to stop Boyanov and save the world.

Still on the fence? Here are 5 reasons why you need to see "Spy" at least twice this weekend.

1. Jason Statham Steals the Show
The "Furious 7" villain skewers his perfectly-stubbled action hero persona to great effect in the role of Rick Ford, a self-proclaimed badass who rattles off a CV of impossible mission feats ("I once drove a car off a freeway, on top of a train, while I was on fire. Not the car -- I was on fire!") but shows up only to make a mess. Ford's an average agent at best, who obliviously overcommits to his own manly myth, Statham is so surprisingly good with the character, that the role all but guarantees him a second career playing straight-man in future action comedies.

2. The "Face/Off" Machine Gag
Early on, Ford's solution to stopping Boyanov/avenging Fine involves the machine last seen in the 1997 Nic Cage and John Travolta guilty pleasure. Ford insists that the CIA has the "Face/Off" Machine somewhere and has been holding out on him and now I can't stop snorting/laughing.

3. Susan Cooper's Identities
After a rocky first act, "Spy" really kicks in once Cooper is put in the field. Instead of giving her a super-cool or suave cover story, Feig and co-writer Katie Dippold wisely pile on one ridiculous fake identity after another. McCarthy is at her best when first coming to terms with these IDs, which her character is sometimes forced to change the details of on the fly to accomplish the mission. These moments give McCarthy some of her best scenes, and the filmmakers use them to double-down on their commitment to successfully outdoing what came before.

4. Any Scene With Rose Byrne and McCarthy
To get close to Byrne's villain, McCarthy must improv an identity of her own, that of a snarky, "don't give a f!@#" accomplished bodyguard. And the back-half of the film gets the most mileage with their pairing, featuring the two trading snarky insults and furthering a running gag about Byrne's elaborate mane of hair. Byrne plays it straight and bitchy, and McCarthy gives her no quarter -- the only problem with their scenes is that you wish there was more of them.

5. That Ending (SPOILERS!)
Don't read past this point of you don't want to know how the movie ends. Seriously.

Still here? Okay, but you've been warned.

Cooper discovers that Fine is alive, but once again facing down the barrel of a gun. To his surprise, she confesses her love for the guy to save his life. And not in a cheesy, drawn out way -- but with a surprising amount of emotional honesty.

When Cooper saves the day, the movie paves the runway for a big "embrace and kiss" moment when Fine finally confronts Coop about her feelings. Instead, the script wisely subverts that cliche for a much more earned beat. Coop isn't a character who needs a romance with a man to make her life better as a woman. By the end of the film, she accepts who she is and what she can do -- often being much better than her male peers at doing it.

Any R-rated summer comedy that ends on such a refreshing note deserves your box office dollar.
categories Features, Movies