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My Spy (A Movie Review)

Updated: Jun 2, 2020

MY SPY (2020)

Starring Dave Bautista, Chloe Coleman, Parisa Fitz-Henley, Kristen Schaal, Greg Byrk, Ken Jeong, Nicola Correia-Damude, Devere Rogers, Noah Danby, Vieslav Krystyan, Basel Daoud, Ali Hassan, Olivia Dépatie, Keller Viaene, Jean-Michel Nadeau, Laura Cilevitz, Darrin Baker, Chris D'Silva, Rakhee Morzaria, Lindsay Mullan, Robin Archer, Karen O'Keefe and April Lee.

Screenplay by Erich Hoeber and Jon Hoeber.

Directed by Peter Segal.

Distributed by STXfilms. 99 minutes. Rated PG-13.

While I was in the preview screening of My Spy a few weeks ago, the world seemed to implode. Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson tested positive for Covid-19, the NBA season was cancelled indefinitely, and the United States suspended all travel from Europe.

Meanwhile, I spent the evening laughing with my fellow audience mates at the craziness that is My Spy.

To be fair, we’ve been under a lot of stress lately. Even considering that evening, I volleyed back and forth on whether to attend. In the end, I opted to go, wiped down my seat arm rests (and Pepsi cup and fruit snacks bag) with Lysol wipes, and settled in, prepared to run if I heard anyone coughing or sneezing in the audience.

Maybe they did and I missed it, because I was laughing too hard watching the endearing awkwardness of Dave Bautista playing a soldier turned spy named JJ. Perhaps on a second watch, in a less stressful time, My Spy will feel less fun, but for that night, it was just what the doctor ordered.

That is as long as you are of an appropriate age to watch a PG-13 film. This is definitely not the kids’ film that I anticipated. There is quite a bit of swearing, although, nothing that pushes it into the R range, and some crazy violence including catapulting bodies and a severed head.

Nine-year-old Sophie, played by Chloe Coleman, is super savvy bordering on super manipulative – the girl outsmarts JJ time after time. It makes for an interesting character, but maybe not what you want your under-13-year-old watching and emulating. It’s super cute and precocious, but not behavior you want to have played out on you.

So, the storyline is nothing really new. Strong ex-soldier lacking finesse and emotional intelligence has turned spy. He is on his last straw with his department head, gets paired with Bobbi, a goofy tech analyst, on what should be a no-brainer assignment – to survey widow Kate and her daughter, Sophie, who have recently moved back to the US from overseas.

Sophie is bright and easily realizes she’s being watched and quickly gets the upper hand on the bumbling JJ. Sophie uses JJ to chaperone her to social and school functions, until the two bond and Sophie decides to play matchmaker between JJ and her mom.

The trailer looked pretty terrible, the plot line too tired, the characters stereotypical. But maybe, just maybe, this was an attempt to lower expectations, because, as a comedy, this is where the film makes some surprising moves that poke fun of this usual overplayed genre.

JJ is funny and weird, quoting Notting Hill and fawning over Britney Spears. His complete lack of emotional intelligence is weirdly endearing, and the writers develop him into a stereotype worth delving into deeper.

Bobbi goes over the top in her fandom but grows into a character that is strong and unafraid to speak her mind to her hero when he is disregarding her talents.

And sure, on the surface, the gay couple who are neighbors seem superficial and silly, but they never give up on their running gag throughout the film.

Oh, and there’s a car chase scene with a Fiat. Be still my heart.

When I started writing this review, while theaters were still open for regular-but-socially-distanced business, I was willing to recommend this as a film worth leaving your house for. So, for sure, when you have the opportunity to watch My Spy, this is a film that I hope will fill a silly laughter void that may be missing in these quarantine days. I will definitely be watching it a second time!

Bonnie Paul

Copyright ©2020 All rights reserved. Posted: April 15, 2020.

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