McCarthy’s new film “Spy”: comedy version of Pacino’s “Scarface”

Movie Review: The new film Spy by comic and humor actress Melissa McCarthy is filled with laughter and hilarity. But it has so many “F” words and worse — like the C-Word — that it’s more like a comedy version of Al Pacino’s 1983 movie “Scarface,” which used the F-Word more than 207 times. Otherwise, it’s a great film.

By Ray Hanania

RayHanania155x130My 14-year-old son Aaron had a choice this weekend. Go see the Jeremy Piven film movie “Entourage” or the Melissa McCarthy film “Spy.”

Entourage is the more mature comedy but Spy won out as McCarthy has a growing stable of funny films.

But the problem with Spy is that it is more like a comedy version of Scarface, the 1983 Brian DePalma and liver Stone film that starred Al Pacino who used the F-word 1 1/2 times each minute of the film including the memorable “Tony Montana” catch-phrase “You F-ing Cockroach.”

I never imagined comparing Melissa McCarthy to Tony Montana!

OK. Aaron did just graduate from 8th grade where, if his grade school experience was anything like mine from the 1960s, he’s heard the F-word a lot already. But seriously? Did they have to use it so much and honestly so gratuitously in Spy?

Spy starring Melissa McCarthy

Spy starring Melissa McCarthy

The movie is hilarious, about a frumpy spy-assistant, Susan Cooper, who is much like the character “Penelope Garcia” (played by Kirsten Vangsness) in the CBS TV series “Criminal Minds” starring among others Joe Mantegna, but sounds more like Tony Montana.

(Spoiler alert — skip this paragraph) — The spy McCarthy is helping, played by Jude Law, gets into trouble and is killed early during the movie. So she goes undercover, against the better judgment of her Deputy CIA Chief Allison Janney, who stars in that great hilarious CBS TV series “Mom.”

McCarthy is so funny. She makes the F-Word and the C-Word funny. Seriously. They just don’t sound as bad when they come out of McCarthy’s mouth.

I’m expecting her now to use foul language on her ABC TV sitcom “Mike & Molly” co-starring Billy Gardell, who is more of a foil for McCarthy’s talents.

McCarthy has a strong Illinois connection. Most people tend to associate an X-Rating with McCarthy’s actress and model cousin, Jenny McCarthy, who is from Evergreen Park. Melissa McCarthy is from Plainfield. But Melissa McCarthy pulls it off without a hitch.

Spy is a hilarious movie. There are several great character actors in the film, too, like British actress Miranda Hart, and British actor Peter Serafinowicz.

But the F-Word is the new “happy talk” apparently.

Tony Montana, a.k.a Scarface

Tony Montana, a.k.a Scarface (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I first got into standup comedy using my Palestinian-Jewish marriage and life to pushback against the growing anti-Arab sentiment that followed the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorism attacks, I quickly learned from appearances at Zanies Comedy Club and Riddles Comedy club that the F-Word was used a lot. The club managers claimed they didn’t want it but the truth is that many nights, the big name comedians used the F-Bomb all the time.

I didn’t. But my comedy required some intelligence and a little knowledge of the Middle East conflict. How can any American not have that today? Still, I do the comedy without using bad words and off-color references. And it works.

I’m not going to judge McCathy or Spy. Like I said, I loved the movie. I just felt a little uncomfortable bringing my son to see it, too. And maybe it explains why on a Friday afternoon — when the Marcus Theaters caters to seniors and senior discounts, so few seniors were there and the movie was less than half full.

The big movie this year will be Jurassic World, the 4th in what promises to be another epoch movie experience, or the new Star Wars.

But I guess the choice comes down to whether or not audiences prefer death and destruction and mass mayhem, which filled the recent premier of San Andreas with actor Dwayne Johnson, or a seriously funny movie that has a constant stream of F-bomb blemishes.

San Andreas hit the big time opening last weekend with $53 million. Spy won’t do that, I’m sure. But it should.

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Blogger, Columnist at Illinois News Network Online
Ray Hanania is senior blogger for the Illinois News Network news site. He is an award winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist who covered the beat from 1976 through 1992 (From Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley). And, Hanania is a stubborn and loud critic of the biased mainstream American news media.

Hanania Chicago political beats and Chicago City Hall at the Daily Southtown Newspapers (1976-1985) and the Chicago Sun-Times (1985-1992). He published the The Villager Community Newspapers covering 12 Southwest suburban regions (1993-1997). Hanania also hosted live political news radio talkshows on WLS AM (1980 - 1991), and also on WBBM FM, WLUP FM, WSBC AM in Chicago, and WNZK AM in Detroit.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. He currently is syndicated through Creators Syndicate. He has written for the Jerusalem Post,, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star of Lebanon, the News of the World in London, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, The Saudi Gazette, the Arab News in Jeddah, and Aramco Magazine.

Hanania's Chicagoland columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald, the Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News and the Palos Reporter newspapers.

He is President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

His personal website is Email him at: [email protected]
Ray Hanania