A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Spy is a hilarious but raunchy spoof of the espionage genre. Very irreverent, it's filled with swear words -- "s--t," "f--k" and so much more, often in the form of extremely colorful insults -- and lots of wince-inducing, bone-crunching fight scenes (including some graphic deaths by gunfire, knives, and big falls), so it's not for younger viewers. There's also plenty of racy content (including pictures of a man's genitals shown on a camera and tons of strong innuendo). All of that said, Spy features a strong -- and very funny -- female lead, Melissa McCarthy, which is refreshing for Hollywood.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is one of the CIA's finest agents. But you wouldn't know it: She's content to play backup to debonair Bradley Fine (Jude Law), who's out in the field while Susan watches via eyepiece and earpiece, always ready to warn him of incoming harm. But one day, Fine is caught in the middle of a mission, which results in the identity of other agents -- including loose cannon Rick Ford (Jason Statham) -- being compromised. Now the agency needs an unknown SPY -- like Susan -- to track Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne), the daughter of an arms dealer, who might know what happened to Fine, as well as the location of an actual nuclear bomb. Can Susan hack it out in the field?
Is it any good?
It's ridiculous how much fun this movie is, considering it isn't the first spy spoof we've seen. But fun it is -- finally, a film that truly showcases McCarthy's prodigious talents, and all without putting her in the usual position of being the brunt of jokes about her weight. Once she comes into her own, Susan Cooper is smart, sassy, strategic, resourceful, and strong. Yes, she's subjected to some disguises that tend toward "crazy cat lady" stereotypes, but she smashes those along with plenty of other ones. Bravo!
Kudos, too, to the rest of the cast, especially the (surprisingly) irreverent Statham, who's essentially making fun of every other "serious action hero" he's portrayed in movies before this. Law is James Bond with a sense of humor. And Byrne is beyond brilliant: She knows where the humorous beats are and always hits them just in time. Perhaps the only major complaint with Spy is that it does still rely a bit too often on jokes that presuppose McCarthy isn't conventionally attractive, an assumption that's pretty long in the tooth. Next time, perhaps, filmmakers will no longer need to point out how "different" she is from the typical Hollywood bombshell, and the "realization" that she's awesome won't be such a big reveal.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the violence in Spy compares to what you might see in movies more focused on action than comedy. Does the movie's tone change the impact of the content? Does exposure to violent movies make kids more aggressive?
McCarthy is known for her physical comedy and, often, foul mouth; do you think this movie would have been the same without those elements? How does the fact that a woman is in the central role affect the impact of the raunchy content?
Why do you think Susan was seemingly content to play second fiddle to a male agent for so long? Does this seem surprising? Why? Why is it funny that her disguises make her seem sad and lonely? What stereotypes do those conventions play into? And how does the movie deal with them in the end?
- In theaters: June 5, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: September 29, 2015
- Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Jason Statham, Jude Law
- Director: Paul Feig
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 120 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language throughout, violence, and some sexual content including brief graphic nudity
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
For kids who love comedies and spy movies
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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