|[Image text: Melissa McCarthy as a spy with a gun, but dressed as an older woman in a pink track suit and cat shirt]|
It's not the best or funniest movie I've ever seen, but it definitely did crack me up. (I'm a sucker for McCarthy.) And in my usual fashion, I started to think about the messages in it. I got a little flummoxed. On one hand, McCarthy's character, Susan Cooper, is the butt of a lot of fat jokes and shaming...but on the other, it's kinda because everyone has underestimated her. She pulls through to prove herself an incredibly competent spy in the field--who takes things into her own hands (literally) and is successful in her mission, partly because she's able to leverage the stereotypes believed about her.
So that was kind of cool, but still something didn't sit right with me. Then I read Meredith Borders' piece at Birth. Movies. Death. and it all made sense. Borders posits that Spy is actually commentary on McCarthy's career. She writes:
Throughout the span of McCarthy's career, she's often played three types of characters: sweet, clumsy, adorable (Gilmore Girls, Mike and Molly, Samantha Who), dowdy and bumbling (Bridesmaids, Tammy) or raunchy yet surprisingly competent (The Heat). She plays each convincingly and with a certain amount of compelling charm, even when her character is meant to be profoundly uncharming. What she's rarely allowed to be - or has chosen not to be...is glamorous and composed, which just so happens to be the persona McCarthy projects with ease on the red carpet and in interviews.