“Spy” Review

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SUMMARY: Despite graduating at the top of his class, CIA analyst Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) works as mission control for field agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law). After Fine is murdered by arms dealer Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne) during a mission, Susan puts her CIA to good use in order to stop the arms deal and avenge Fine’s death.

ANALYSIS: Although Melissa McCarthy has a mixed reception among Internet film buffs, I think she works best as a comedic actor when she collaborates with director Paul Feig. It was with Feig’s 2011 film Bridesmaids that McCarthy had her breakout role. This movie is no exception. She not only works a physical comedic actor but she also brings a likable quality to her character thanks to her comedic timing. Miranda Hart is also good as Susan Cooper’s awkward sidekick Nancy B. Artingstall.

However, the best performance in this movie goes to Jason Statham as the lone wolf agent Rick Ford. His character gives out the best lines of the entire movie. Although Statham is well known as an action star, it’s easy to forget that his debut film role was in Guy Ritchie’s 1998 comedy Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

The film’s sense of humor is hit-and-miss. However, most of the jokes in this movie are hits thanks to its strong cast. The film surprisingly works better as a straight-up action comedy. Although director Paul Feig mastered his directing chops in the comedy genre, this movie shows that he can merge both action and comedy in the first scene alone.

OVERALL: Although Kingsman: The Secret Service does a better job of spoofing the secret agent movie genre, Spy is no slouch either. Spy is a well-made action comedy.

SCORE: 4/5

“Inside Out” Review

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Summary

There are five emotions that help guide the decisions of 11-year-old Riley Andersen: Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) as she moves from Minnesota to San Francisco after her father accepts a job there.

Analysis

To say that Pixar has been going through a rough patch over the last few years would be the understatement of the year. 2011 will be a year that will live in infamy for animation fans: it was the year that Cars 2 became the first Pixar film to have a “rotten” score on Rotten Tomatoes (39% as of this writing). It was a sequel that nobody asked for. Although Brave and Monsters University fared better among both critics and the general public at large, many Pixar fans felt underwhelmed by them. Then came Inside Out

I thought all the actors playing the emotions fulfilled each of their parts very well. Amy Poehler plays Joy as an overenthusiastic optimist who serves as a balance to the other conflicting emotions. Who better to portray the personification than Lewis Black himself? The Office alumni Phyllis Smith and Mindy Kaling portray Sadness and Disgust respectively. They both fit their roles like a glove.

The film focuses mainly on the adventures of Joy and Sadness and their character development. I really like this aspect because they’re polar opposites. Along their story arc, they meet another character that represent a major part of Riley’s psyche. I won’t spoil this aspect but I thought it was a clever addition considering the theme of the movie. The dual plots involving Riley and her emotions managed to correspond correctly thanks to the movie’s superb writing. The film is funny when it needs to be and it’s dramatic when the mood calls for it. While the film’s concept is nothing new, the film’s writers use it to their full advantage.

Once again, Pixar knocks it out of the park with its animation. It’s hard to believe that Toy Story came out almost twenty years ago. Pixar came a long way since then with their designs for human characters. When it comes to the personified emotions, they evoke the cartoons of the golden age of animation.

Conclusion

It’s safe to say that Inside Out is easily the best Pixar release since Toy Story 3. If this isn’t the comeback of the year, I don’t know what is.

SCORE: 5/5