Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Me Who Loved SPY

Do you need some laughs this weekend?  Laughs with good actresses using bad language and giving you full entertainment?  I've got just the action-packed movie for you.
What a week.  While I've been reading the new Jackie Collins novel, I tried to keep up with tweets and other comments about this whole Rachel Dolezal mess.  She was president of the the NAACP office in  Spokane, Washington.  Then it was discovered that she's not really black.  She has Caucasian parents and she was claiming to be black.  She must be like Woody Allen in ZELIG.  There's got to be some chipped plate in the cupboard of her mind while she seemed committed to a cause.  Let's face it.  In this country, you do not pretend to be black so you can have less drama, easy access to things and make big money whether you're qualified for the job or not.  Mentally, she must have been prepared to work twice as hard for half the pay as a white dude at some time her life -- a life in which she identifies as black.  She gave her first exclusive interview to the TODAY Show.  Yes...TODAY.  A network morning news program  that had only two black people as on-air talents in its first 50 years.  Bryant Gumble and Al Roker.  In half a century.  Rachel Dolezal was interviewed by Matt Lauer.
Just a couple o' white folks sitting around talking about being black in America.  I wished Paddy Chayefsky, the screenwriter who gave us NETWORK, had lived to see that interview.

Then NBC reality show host, Donald Trump, threw his combover into the presidential ring.  He's the CELEBRITY APPRENTICE host who kept demanding that President Barack Obama prove he's an American and show us his birth certificate.  Then...Jeb Bush, who'd already thrown his hat into the presidential ring, made a guest appearance on NBC's TONIGHT Show with Jimmy Fallon to do some comedy and get some network face time.  NBC News hired two members of the rich Bush Family even though they had no previous TV journalism skills.  Billy Bush went from contributor spots on Today to becoming the new host of ACCESS HOLLYWOOD, another NBC show.  Jenna Bush Hager is now a contributor on the Today Show.

Whew!  That's a lot to think about.  I say make Brian Williams the new host of Celebrity Apprentice while Donald Trump campaigns and have Rachel Dolezal on as one of the celebrity apprentices.

Thank Heaven for Melissa McCarthy in SPY, her new movie that opened on June 5th.  I saw it yesterday and belly laughed several times.  Her action comedy was just the tonic I needed to calm down from the news of color issues and rich presidential candidates.

I wrote about Jurassic World in my previous blog post.  That's a big thrill ride sci-fi monster dinosaur movie for the family.  Basically, it's like a 1950s sci-fi movie with a handsome macho hero and an independent career woman in high heels who falls for him while she screams and runs away from monsters.  Spy is more feminist than Jurassic World and it has a better script.  The screenplay tweaks clichés from the James Bond movies -- modern ones starring Daniel Craig, like Casino Royale, and classic ones starring Sean Connery.  The airplane fight scene will remind you of Goldfinger.
McCarthy, in fine form, stars as a desk-bound CIA analyst who guides a Bond-like super agent on a hidden earpiece as he tracks down terrorists who have a nuclear weapon.  Without her, he'd be dead.  She's a brilliant worker.  She's not the only good female worker in the office.  But Brad (snappily played by Jude Law) is a handsome, chauvinist male who barely notices her unique qualities, even when they're at dinner.  He just sees her as his chubby buddy.  She needs to leave the desk.
Something goes wrong with the operation and Susan Cooper (McCarthy) is kicked up to active undercover agent.  She's given disguises and new identities.  But she has to work with one real jerk -- the butch but occasionally bumbling Rick, played by Jason Statham.  Statham does a fine job lampooning the kind of action characters he's played.
Susan is a brilliant spy, brainy as all get-out, but seeing bad guys killed make her queasy.  It's no surprise Brad never really noticed her at work even though she guided him through deadly assignments.  She's a woman who was raised by her mother to blend in and be unassuming.  Now, she's 40 and lives alone.  But as she follows her keen hunches, she's no longer passive.  She becomes a rogue spy with a new look.  Entering one swanky casino nightclub, Melissa McCarthy gives you a bit of Mae West as she wears basic black and flirts with the doormen.  I loved that scene.
She hated the disguises her critical CIA boss (played by Allison Janney) gave her.  As Susan said, "I look like someone's homophobic aunt."  She changes things when she goes rogue spy.  I won't tell you much more about the movie.  But, trust me, all the funny parts are not in the trailer.  There are many more.
There's plenty of kick-ass action in this movie and the screenplay has some clever twists.  As for Melissa McCarthy, I've been a fan of hers since I saw her in a bit part in the 1999 Christmas crime comedy thriller, GO.  She had one small scene as a roommate but she lit it up. Melissa McCarthy is comedy gold and she looks fabulous in this new movie.  Spy is one of her best since her Oscar-nominated performance in Bridesmaids.  Both films were directed by Paul Feig.  This may not be highbrow art, but it gave me just what I wanted -- lots of laughs, action, a good story and characters I cared about.  Besides Susan Cooper...I really loved Aldo the horny Italian, played by Peter Serafinowicz, and Nancy, Susan's British office mate pal, played by Miranda Hart.  For laughs this weekend, go see Spy.  I hope there's a sequel to this very entertaining action/comedy.

Sex, drugs, money, murder, celebrity pets named after pop stars, racial diversity and an Elvis impersonator.  That's all in the new novel by Jackie Collins.  It's called THE SANTANGELOS.  Here's Jackie:
There's a lot or oral sex in this novel.  And, at one point, a characters recalls the time she drew a happy face with a felt tip pen on a guy's johnson.  Only in a Jackie Collins novel.  If you're in New York City around lunchtime on Thursday, June 18th, I'll interview her about the book and she'll sign copies.  That's in the Bryant Park Reading Room on 42nd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues.

We'll be there from 12:30 to 1:45pm.  Click onto the Things To Do section and find Reading Room on the website for more info:  BryantPark.org.




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