Cert – 12, Run-time – 1 hour 39 minutes, Director – Peter Segal
A CIA spy (Dave Bautista) trains a nine year old (Chloe Coleman) after she discovers his secret mission
The tough-guy trains/ looks after kids story has been done many times before. A big action star is put into a fish-out-of-water style tale as the tough-guy role is paired with a young child. My Spy is, in a number of ways, no different. Dave Bautista plays JJ, a CIA spy who, after a mission goes slightly wrong, is relegated to observing a mother and daughter in Chicago instead of going around the world to combat terrorists. The reason for the pair being observed being that they are the relations of the one man who got away from JJ’s mission-gone-wrong (Greg Bryk). All that he needs is one more weapon that, when paired with the one he already has, has the ability to destroy an entire city.
However, it’s not long until JJ and partner Bobbi (Kristen Schaal), a spy hopeful constantly pushed back to what’s known as “the van” observing what happens and telling the spies what to do, are discovered by the girl that they are observing. Sophie (Chloe Coleman) threatens to show her Mum (Parisa Fitz-Henley) recorded proof of what’s actually going on with their new upstairs neighbours unless she can get something in return for not doing so. It’s all pretty standard stuff.
Initially JJ takes her ice skating, something which he ‘amusingly’ can’t do himself, so that she can meet up with people from school that she’s trying to be friends with. Overtime Sophie begins to use JJ for more things, bringing him into school for a Parents And Special Friends Day, where he reveals some of his military and CIA past to great reception from both the kids and adults, and gradually making Sophie one of the popular kids. And, of course, it’s not long until JJ begins to train his growing nine year old counterpart in some of the ways of spying, something which Bobbi would prefer is taught to her, or nobody at all – especially as everything that’s happening goes against the mission in the first place.
All of this takes centre stage, at points you forget that there’s actually a villain or a reason for JJ being there to watch the two-member family. Bryk’s villain appears intermittently but most of the time rarely and briefly. However, once the humour begins to start and get rolling this doesn’t really seem to matter that much. One of the reasons you forget about this detail that’s mostly key in the third act is because you begin to get invested within the central relationship. The humour starts and as the gags have a greater success rate the film as a whole becomes more enjoyable. The first 20-25 minutes as the film seems to be filled with various odd references that fail to raise a laugh and give the impression of something tired and lacking, Notting Hill and Iron Man 2 are both referenced in the first 3 or 4 minutes; another line makes reference to dancing being “like the wedding at the end of Shrek”. It’s such lines that even the editors seem to want to get rid of as they immediately cut to either a new action or line of dialogue pretty quickly or just jump to a new scene entirely, knowing that some of these lines would possibly seem outdated or simply just tired in even a film released five or more years ago.
In fact the turning point of the film is when the highlights that are the characters of Todd (Noah Danby) and Carlos (Devere Rogers). Carlos being the talkative figure, although most of the time relaying what Todd has apparently said, although the character is shown to only ever grunt. There’s something about the pair that when the punchlines arrive, although they are the centre of only a couple of running jokes, that leads to the humour being brought in that most of the audience seems to react to. And once this humour is brought in it seems that the screenwriters click and realise what they need to do. Continuing along slightly similar lines with the humour, although just about avoiding being a one note film.
Much like the presence of the bad guy the amount of action present in the film is relatively minimal. yet enough to warrant the film a 12 rating (despite still being a family film – amidst some, as the BBFC puts it, “moderate bad language”). However, when it comes to the big finale of the film, which still features a fair bit of cliche, there is still a fair bit to like and enjoy. It’s done well enough to avoid feeling cheesy and have some mild entertainment value. Topping off what has been a fairly decent and enjoyable film. Yes, there are some bumps throughout it and the start is certainly uneven and begins to indicate something far too conventional and unfunny for its own good. But, as the film goes on and the humour develops it begins to pick up the pace, recognise what it needs to do to get better and just about fulfils that. Making for a decent family film that passes the time well enough and manages to just about subvert expectations. And it’s all down to that central relationship in which the viewer becomes mildly invested in.
While it starts off as the same cliche tough-guy – young child buddy film My Spy gradually turns into a funnier and more entertaining feature. Bringing the viewer in to the central relationship and providing them with enough humour from almost every character to avoid boredom from this surprisingly amusing family film.