Spy parents guide

Spy Parent Review

The implied message of female empowerment is buried beneath unnecessary coarse language and crude jokes and condescendingly suggests all one needs to do to gain respect is swear like a sailor.

Overall D+

When the safety of a couple of CIA operatives means the agency must find a new volunteer, Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is quick to put up her hand even though her usual job as an analyst means she has no field experience.

Violence D
Sexual Content D+
Profanity D
Substance Use C+

Spy is rated R for language throughout, violence, and some sexual content including brief graphic nudity.

Movie Review

Melissa McCarthy stars in Spy, a movie that unwittingly sets out to prove why a woman shouldn’t be more like a man—at least not within this genre. McCarthy’s character, Susan Cooper, is a desk jockey. Her job is to lead her secret agent—in this case the suave Bradley Fine (Jude Law)—through the typical minefields of covert activities and assassins. She performs this miracle gazing at a computer in Washington DC while relaying directions around the globe into her operative’s micro-earpiece. “Watch your six o’clock”, she advises, giving Fine just enough time to take out three attackers hiding around a corner.

It’s a good gig for the unappreciated employee, until a tragic incident leaves her without a partner to direct. Shaken but not too stirred, Cooper reveals she has talent and skills—including the ability to take down multiple assailants with her fighting abilities—and convinces her boss to let her take the front line position. Jetting to Bulgaria, she is given an observation mission to monitor and locate a nuclear device that has fallen into the wrong hands. Of course, not everyone is happy about the new assignment, especially Rick Ford (Jason Statham), an egotistical agent who uses a litany of sexual expletives to convince us he’s hard, focused… and funny.

Yes, this film is supposed to be a comedy, and there are a few moments of humor while we view Cooper applying good ‘ol common sense and woman’s intuition to the James Bond-esque business of spying. However after our undercover underdog gets in deeper than expected, she too joins in the profanity parade to convince a dangerous target she was hired to be a bodyguard. Now we are treated to frequent scenes of McCarthy and Statham throwing as many sexual expletives as they are bullets and fists. If the object of this movie is to teach its audience that tough talk means limiting your vocabulary to the vilest of four-letter words, Spy succeeds impeccably. However many parents will not appreciate their kids using a similar approach (along with the demonstrated physical altercations) to defend their turf.

Rated R in the US, the violence in Spy is explicit and pervasive. Killings from gunshots are frequently depicted with blood effects. Other secondary characters are beaten and thrown about with bone-breaking sound effects. Sexual content includes two quick still images of male genitals and plentiful crude sexual discussion.

Coming from the same director who helmed Bridesmaids and The Heat (both of which also starred Melisa McCarthy), Spy smells of a hopeful future franchise as Paul Feig continues to tweak his formula for attracting girls into theater seats. It’s unfortunate that he doesn’t know how to take the worthwhile concept of an underappreciated woman with overlooked abilities and turn it into something families would be happy to have their teens see. Instead the implied message of female empowerment is buried beneath unnecessary coarse language and crude jokes (similar to those in Feig’s previous offerings) and condescendingly suggests all one needs to do in order to gain respect is swear like a sailor.

Directed by Paul Feig. Starring Rose Byrne, Jude Law, Jason Statham | Melissa McCarthy. Running time: 120 minutes. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Spy here.

Spy Parents Guide

Talk about the movie with your family…

This film depicts a situation many women (and men) may be found in, where they are trained for specific job positions yet are overlooked due to their personal appearance, age, gender or other reasons. While this movie attempts to look at this issue from a comedic perspective, what could someone faced with this challenge reasonably do to try to fix the problem?

In this movie the main female character is seen as being passive and overlooked. When she is put in a position where she needs to persuade an antagonist that she is capable of fighting (which she is actually trained to do), she beings swearing to convince her would-be attacker. In reality, do we view the use of profanity in a similar way? How or why has coarse language become an indicator of “toughness” or “street smarts”?

From the Studio:
Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is an unassuming, deskbound CIA analyst, and the unsung hero behind the Agency’s most dangerous missions. But when her partner (Jude Law) falls off the grid and another top agent (Jason Statham) is compromised, she volunteers to go deep undercover to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer, and prevent a global disaster. (C) Fox

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