“My Spy” stars Dave Bautista, Kristen Schaal, Parisa Fitz-Henley, Chloe Coleman, and Ken Jeong. Released on June 26, 2020, the film is about a CIA operative who is assigned to protect a young girl’s family.
The film is directed by Peter Segal, who also directed films such as “Tommy Boy”, “Anger Management”, “Get Smart”, and “Second Act”. It’s been a long time coming, but after months and months of waiting, it’s finally here. The latest “action star meets cute kid” comedy has arrived to satisfy our humorous needs this weekend. Yeah, I know that everyone’s not excited to see it because of the trailers that they’ve seen a bunch of times, but for fans of the genre, it’s hard not to get ecstatic for its arrival. I have a soft spot for these types of films, whether they’re good or not, so it’s no surprise that I was looking forward to it. The film was made no more than two years ago, and it didn’t see its release until this year. This is due to the amount of release date changes that it faced. Originally distributed by STX Entertainment, the film was supposed to be released in theaters last August, but its release has been changed numerous times due to some competition and, of course, the pandemic. After months of impatience and insanity from seeing the same trailer in theaters over and over again, the film has finally decided to skip the theatrical release in favor of a digital release. Its distribution rights were handed over to Amazon Studios, which released it digitally on Prime Video for free (with an Amazon Prime subscription, of course). Now that it has finally arrived, was it worth the wait?
The story centers on JJ (Bautista), a former US Special Forces soldier turned CIA operative. He, along with tech operator Bobbi (Schaal), is assigned by his boss (Jeong) to keep a close eye on the in-law family of Victor Marquez (Greg Bryk), an illegal arms dealer who’s searching for the nuclear bomb plans that were hidden by his brother. JJ and Bobbi move into the apartment building where Victor’s brother’s family resides, which consists of single mother Kate (Fitz-Henley) and 9-year-old Sophie (Coleman). During their surveillance, they are unfortunately exposed by Sophie, who blackmails JJ into keeping her company and training her how to be a spy. It’s undoubtedly obvious that the film has the “tough guy meets cute kid” formula that was seen in the other family comedies like “The Game Plan” and last year’s “Playing with Fire”. You can easily see it just by looking at the film’s poster. However, as the film went on, it became less of that and more of a family spy drama that features the "new-kid-at-school" trope and the “child attempting to hook up their single parent with a nice person” plot. While certain fans of the “tough guy meets cute kid” films may feel a bit disappointed or a bit bored depending on the age group, I actually didn’t mind this approach. After watching John Cena making an absolute fool of himself in “Playing with Fire”, it’s quite nice to see a film that doesn’t always rely on kid-friendly jokes, pratfalls, yelling, and disastrous comedic incidents to deliver an enjoyable and cute family comedy, but that doesn’t mean I’m letting it off the hook that easily. To Peter Segal’s credit, he did his best to keep its charming antics consistent, which is one of the most important things that the directors must do with these types of films. However, his attempt at combining the three different elements together was pretty mediocre, mostly due to the film’s unoriginal plot and the lack of strong dramatic elements. There were actually some moments that made the film highly watchable for me, including the cast. Dave Bautista was very likable in terms of his performance as JJ, which proves that he can work pretty well in both comedy and drama. Chloe Coleman also did a nice job playing Sophie, a character who has the right amount of cuteness and tolerance to pass off as the main character’s young companion. Kristen Schaal had a couple of good moments as Bobbi despite not being as irresistible as the chemistry between Bautista and Coleman, and Ken Jeong was probably here for the paycheck. The film’s humor was a hit-and-miss. On the one hand, it had a proper balance that won’t annoy a lot of adults with its childish tomfoolery. On the other hand, there wasn’t a lot of memorable jokes that would make some people want to watch it over and over again. There were some humorous moments that made me laugh, and there were some humorous moments that either felt flat or were forgettable. In other words, the film is 50% funny, which in my mind is better than 0%.
Overall, “My Spy” has some major issues that will easily expose itself to the public, but it’s tolerable enough to place itself in the “action star and young kid” film collection. Even though its unoriginality and mediocre plot elements are painfully obvious, this action comedy should impress those who are into these types of films thanks to its charming cast and its passable use of humor. It wasn’t what I expected out of something like this, to be completely honest, but I had a nice time watching it regardless of its direction. Makes me feel glad that it didn’t turn out to be Bautista’s version of “Playing with Fire”.