Erich Hoeber, Jon Hoeber
release date 2020
So as the school holidays comes to an end in Australia we finish off with yet another release of a children’s film. The funny part is that it’s a bit like a recipe, as it contains parts of all the other films I’ve reviewed already these summer holidays! You take the machismo of Playing with Fire, add the silliness of Farmageddon, plus a touch of heart from Frozen 2, not forgetting some funny one-liners from Jumanji, finish it off with some espionage from Spies in Disguise, garnish it with the child-friendly action of Star Wars and you have a perfectly satisfying film called My Spy. Mr. 9 and I ate it up (and reviewed it) last week when we saw it at Palace Nova cinemas!
JJ (Dave Bautista) is an undercover CIA agent who is not exactly inconspicuous. After a weapons deal goes horribly wrong he is assigned to surveillance duty with tech-specialist Bobbi (Kristen Schaal. Their job is to keep an eye on a mother and daughter who may be in danger if a global terrorist finds out where they live. But JJ isn’t exactly qualified for surveillance duty and it’s not long before he is caught out by clever 9 year old Sophie (Chloe Coleman) the girl he is supposed to be watching. The two work out an arrangement where Sophie won’t tell her mum Kate (Parisa Fitz-Henley) that they are being watched, but only if JJ teaches Sophie how to become a spy. The two don’t exactly get along but over time a friendship develops, much to the chagrin of Bobbi who knows that this is a serious breach of the CIA surveillance rules. But, as expected, trouble inevitably finds its way into Sophie and Kate’s life and we are left to see whether the spy training that JJ gave this precocious 9 year old will succeed or fail spectacularly.
For a film like this, with a storyline that has been done to death plenty of times before, I was actually surprised at how much I liked My Spy. But my enjoyment didn’t come so much from former WWE wrestler Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy, Stuber) but the confidence and acting ability of kid actor Chloe Coleman (Big Little Lies. In a lot of these ‚kids teaching adults to be kids‘ films the child usually comes across as bratty and unlikeable but Coleman finds a great balance of clever, likeable and entertaining which Mr. 9 and I really found appealing. Also when you have a great comedy support cast like Kristen Schaal (Gravity Falls, Toy Story 4) and Ken Jeong (The Hangover movies) the laughter also lifts a notch too.
Mr.9: I really liked Sophie in this film when she is learning to become a spy. The part where she keeps looking at the explosions behind her was really funny because JJ had to keep turning her head around.
Bautista seems to have found his niche in Hollywood at taking characters who are large, muscle-bound, meat heads with not much going on upstairs. Alongside professional comedians like Schaal and Jeong his comedic acting can sometimes be painful to watch as he tries to compete with them for laughs but comes across more forced than natural.
And for those of you looking for an action film this is not entirely the case with My Spy. Although it is bookended with big, action, set pieces it is more a romantic comedy as much of the film is taken up with telling the story of JJ’s budding friendship with Sophie and finding a possible love interest with her mum, Kate.
Mr. 9: It got really boring in the middle because there was no action happening. The bad guy was there at the start and then disappeared until the end of the film. It seemed different from what the trailer showed.
For those of you who are familiar with Dave Bautista you would know that he is bald up top. Yet for some unknown reason the hair and makeup team decided to either spray paint or put a toupee on top of his head which is jet black and extremely short. It looks so unnatural and left me staring at the top of his head for most of the movie. Somewhat in shock and somewhat in fascination I couldn’t stop looking at this unusual follicle choice.
I didn’t have high hopes for My Spy after seeing the trailer but walked out pleasantly surprised at how a completely unoriginal film could be so enjoyable. Bautista’s charm and Coleman’s likeability really carry this film above ‚just another comedy. An enjoyable film to finish off the school holidays!
THREE AND A HALF TOUPEES OUT OF FIVE
Mr. 9: All the spy stuff was fun and the movie was also pretty funny although it had a lot of swearing for a ‚PG‘ film. Three and a half out five.