I haven't seen a good spy comedy in years. For some reason, filmmakers have had a hard job coming up with an espionage spoof that works as well as other genre classics Airplane or The Naked Gun. Leslie Nielsen comedy Spy Hard fell apart once you've got past those terrific Weird Al Jankovic opening titles, while Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson made a good stab with I-Spy, a revamp of the old TV show.
All of which preamble brings us to the latest genre entry, Spy.
Jude Law is on good form as the secret agent who is guided through his missions by Melissa McCarthy, a chubby, single agent who clearly worships the ground he walks on.
She's the Chloe to his Jack Bauer; the voice in his ear who has instant access to schematics, knows where all the bad guys are, and prevents him from dying.
However, when a tragedy occurs in the first few minutes, our unlikely heroine goes undercover to try and find the murderous femme fatale, played by Rose Byrne.
(I'm constantly amazed Byrne is employed for comedy after comedy. A good actress, but showed very little comic skill in Get Him to the Greek, and was average in the dreadful Seth Rogen comedy Bad Neighbours.)
Supporting McCarthy is Miranda Hart as her fellow agent, and Allison Janney as their boss, but despite the comic chops of the leading ladies, and a scene stealing Peter Serafinowicz, the unlikely star, and the person who generates the biggest laughs, is Jason Statham.
Yes, the man least likely to raise a chuckle steals the show as the gruff British agent who has seen it all, done it all, and lived to tell the tale.
He's a hoot but the tone is often excessively violent at the expense of the fun.
There's an old saying with comedy: if it bends it's funny, if it breaks it's not, so why director Paul Feig decided to include some dubious scenes more at home in a horror movie is beyond me. Did we really need to see a poor soul having his neck eaten away by acid? I think not.
It's not a bad movie, but at two hours it's 30 minutes too long. All good comedies should be around the 90 min mark - see Man Up for proof).
One of the other key problems is the obviously improvised scenes where McCarthy insults one of Byrne's minions. It falls flat and she just comes across as a xenophobic, aggressive idiot.
However, if you only see one minute, make sure it's the scene where McCarthy has a makeover and emerges from a doorway looking the spitting image of Dawn French. For those few seconds you could be forgiven for thinking Miss French was actually making a cameo appearance.
With some judicious pruning and less adult content in what looks like a family film, this could have been a great movie instead of an okay one.