JJ is a former Army Ranger turned CIA operative with a finely honed set of skills. You set him loose with enough fire power, and he can systematically take out a small army of adversaries all on his own, leaving a given area charred and smoking.
If, on the other hand, you send him undercover with the goal of finessing information out of someone, well, that he’s not so good at. In fact, if you’re relying on his people skills in any way, you’d better simply duck and wait for things to start blowing up.
And that tendency has now landed JJ in a rather demeaning assignment. After his last field work went kablooey, he was given one final chance to retain his job. All he has to do is keep tabs from afar on a woman and her young daughter. That’s it. There’s something big going on involving a nuclear bomb, and this mom, Kate, and her 9-year-old, Sophie, likely have absolutely nothing to do with it. But since Kate has some family ties to the terrorists involved, she simply needs to be watched.
CAST Dave Bautista as JJ; Chloe Coleman as Sophie; Kristen Schaal as Bobbi; Ken Jeong as David Kim; Parisa Fitz-Henley as Kate
DIRECTOR Peter Segal
DISTRIBUTOR STX Entertainment
Easy. Just watch and report anything remotely suspicious.
As if this assignment wasn’t simplistic enough, JJ is also forced to work with a mousy tech named Bobbi who’s never even been in the field before. In fact, they’ve got to move into the same building as Kate and her kid, Set up cameras in the target’s apartment, and watch as an innocent family does absolutely nothing. Ugh! It’s enough to drive the action-oriented JJ completely bonkers.
What JJ and Bobbi don’t count on is the fact that little Sophie is, well, naturally more gifted at their jobs than they are. Not only does she spot their cameras, track JJ back to his apartment and see through his and Bobbi’s assumed identities, she manipulates them into doing exactly what she wants them to do.
So if JJ and Bobbi don’t want Sophie to blow their cover—and almost certainly get them both fired—JJ is going to have to teach her how to be a spy. That’s because one thing Sophie isn’t so good at is negotiating the obstacles of middle school. So some spy savvy, and maybe a big hulking escort, could certainly come in handy.
JJ agrees, but he’s pretty sure this probably isn’t going to end well. He’d better take a couple hand grenades along … just in case.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Dwayne Johnson, John Cena, Vin Diesel—they have all suffered through it. And now former pro wrestler Dave Bautista (of Guardians of the Galaxy fame) is taking his turn. He’s yet another heavily muscled action-hero type to slip into the lead of a goofy kids’ movie and get thumped around in laughable ways.
My Spy isn’t apt to surprise you much—at least in terms of the plot. It generally sticks to the formula and gives its big flexing lead plenty of absurd situations where he can look fish-out-of-water awkward, along with several scenes where he can muscle through and win the day. Kid sidekick Sophie has plenty of sass and a nicely timed delivery of her snark. There’s a dash of romance, a splash of danger and explosions, and some funny bits. The good guys win, the kid makes friends. It’s all pretty typical stuff.
That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s all good stuff.
In this pic’s case, there’s more nasty language leaking out around the edges than one might expect in a movie that’s aimed at a family audience. And characters unnecessarily vocalize innuendo being talked about. And a few just-offscreen, bullet-to-the-forehead moments that can feel harsh. Things are a little too rough-edged for tykes, then, and a little too rewarmed for everybody else.
Of course, that kind of content doesn’t make this movie atypical of today’s “family film” crop. It just makes a potentially cute film less watchable.
–Bob Hoose | PluggedIn