Melissa McCarthy Infiltrates Hollywood Norms In “Spy”

By Melissa Mazza, Fattitude Intern*

spy-movie-poster-melissa-mccarthyIf you ask me, Melissa McCarthy dazzles in Spy,” the action-packed espionage comedy that packs a serious feminist and body positive wallop! There are plenty of physical gags and crude punch lines, but ‘fat’ is rarely one of them. This film is not just a kick-ass-super-funny action comedy; it’s a kick-ass-super-funny action comedy with a fat female hero! Leaving the movie theater, I felt empowered, emphatic and seriously entertained! Let’s be clear, this is not just some summer box office blast – this first class film was built with feminist flare and made a defined statement about size acceptance, fat bias and female empowerment in Hollywood.

From the beginning, Melissa McCarthy – CIA agent Susan Cooper – is a mousy, compliant, desk-duty agent who is the ‘woman-behind-the-man’ to a studly James Bond-esque agent – Bradley Fine – played by the swoon-worthy Jude Law. As his intelligent eyes and ears, via cameras and mics, we quickly realizes that Cooper is the sense and brains of the duo… and that she is hopelessly in love with him. He uses this to his professional advantage, while also subtly patronizing her role in the agency. In getting to know Susan, we realize that she is not satisfied with her life and has let family, flames and society push her down. When Cooper and Fine are given a mission to locate a nuclear bomb, Fine finds himself in the home of Rayna Boyanov, the daughter of a dangerous arms dealer. Going against Cooper’s pleas to retract, Fine is shot down by Rayna mid-coup.

In quest for revenge for Fine’s death, Susan persuades her boss (Allison Janney) to send her incognito into the field to track down Rayna. During this time we get a front row seat to a moving evolution of McCarthy’s character, which I see as a metaphor for finding self-acceptance and actualization. At first Susan is insecure and awkward – a bit reminiscent of Sandra Bullock in “Miss Congeniality”. She plays the behind-the-scenes gal, blending in with the wallpaper and suppressing her infinite potential to be the star. But as things heat up, she is forced to face opposers and naysayers head-on, building her self-confidence and resilience. We see her totally come into her own – proving to herself what a smart-sexy-bold-crime-fighting agent she is, and it is electrifying!

The film humbly celebrates female triumph and teamwork, as Cooper along with her coworker Nancy (Miranda Hart), and her in-command boss are able to save the day themselves – without the knight in shining armor to rescue them. In addition Cooper gives us plenty of physical action scenes, a fierce fitted wardrobe and plenty of sexual pursuits by a hunky Italian agent – all without one jab at her weight! Finally, a fat heroine gets all the unspoken ‘thin’ privileges of a leading lady! This film makes some serious commentary on ‘traditional’ male/female roles, size acceptance and not judging a book by its cover – all under the guise of a comedy. I certainly give it 5 stars and am praying for a sequel! What did you think? Was “SPY” as good for you as it was for me?

“You’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.” – Glenda the Good Witch

*This blog post is the opinions of a particular Fattitude’s interns – and does not necessarily reflect the position of Fattitude, Inc.

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