18 April 2024

Film Review – My Spy (2020)

For every Kindergarten Cop, there’s a Tooth Fairy. For every The Pacifier there’s Playing With Fire: we simply cannot get enough of big (and we mean BIG) action stars showing both their softer side and their greatest challenge yet: children. Rightly or wrongly, fairly or unfairly, My Spy has of course been compared to many of these efforts and for the most part, it does follow the blueprint but this has a freshness to it that some of those aforementioned efforts didn’t, thanks in no small part to its co-star Chloe Coleman, who is nothing short of revelatory.

We start pretty typically for a spy movie: CIA Agent JJ (Bautista) is your huge, brooding smash-and-grab kind of agent who has no problem throwing down with the most despicable enemies across the globe but subtlety and undercover abilities aren’t his strongest suit. Deep in Russia territory, as a weapons exchange is taking place, his cover is blown almost immediately – his attempt at a Russian accent is compared to the one Mickey Rourke did in Iron Man 2 – and whilst he rids the world of some truly bad people, he loses the battle and may have nudged the world into a big nuclear war. Sidelined, he is put on watch detail with his new “partner” Bobbi (Kristen Schaal) to watch a young girl named Sophie (Chloe Coleman) who may be smarter and more adept at their jobs than they are.

Such films of this ilk live or die on the young central performance – are they out of their depth? Is it a little too much for them to process? – but Coleman – who featured in Big Little Lies – truly soars. Her timing, humour, warmth and rapport with Bautista is a joy and while there’s a few small slips here and there, nothing can distract from a true star turn in the making.

As for Bautista, well he’s back on form after the big misstep that was excruciating painful Stuber (My Spy has more laughs in the first ten minutes than that poor “comedy” had throughout its whole runtime) – he has always been a dab hand at action and comedy but this feels like a match made in heaven as, as with the film, revels in the film’s fresh air. Schaal and Ken Jeong add their own unique brand of comedic talents to the pot and when it’s blended together right, the film is a real treat.

It also helps to have the seasoned, safe hands of director Peter Segel, who brings his usual mix of energy and hilarity to proceedings in the same way he did with 2011’s big-screen adaptation of Get Smart. The hit rate on this one – both action and comedic – isn’t quite as prolific and the script ebbs and flows between great and average particularly as it heads into the final third (as well as becoming slightly too “hard” for younger viewers) the laughs aren’t sporadic and keep the thin plot ticking over nicely.

It wont win any prizes for originality nor for stretching it’s humongous co-star into anything too strenuous, My Spy is the kind of heartfelt and funny family comedy that seldom scale such heights as this one, so much so that the question may well be asked: franchise, anyone?


Action, Comedy, Family | USA, 2020 | 12A | 13th March 2020 (UK) | STX Entertainment | Dir.Peter Segal | Dave Bautista, Chloe Coleman, Parisa Fitz-Henley, Kristen Schaal, Ken Jeong,

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