Nine-year-old Sophie (Chloe Coleman) catches JJ (Dave Bautista), a hardened CIA operative, spying on her family during a routine surveillance operation. In exchange for not blowing his cover, JJ begrudgingly agrees to show the precocious girl how to become a spy. What at first seems like an easy task soon turns into a battle of wits as Sophie proves you don’t need much experience to outsmart a seasoned agent.
When I first saw the trailer for My Spy as a coming attraction while in the movie theatre a while back, I basically had the same thought that everybody had – “this looks awful”. It reminded me of an extremely bad late 90s or early 2000s comedy. Some part of me was holding out hope that it would be a welcomed surprise, but deep down inside, I still had a feeling it was going to suck. Sadly, it did suck. My Spy is a painfully cringe-worthy film with a list of problems.
The first on the list is without a doubt the script, written by Jon and Erich Hoeber. Right from the start, it feels like it doesn’t work. We watch a scene in which Dave Bautista’s JJ is in the middle of a sticky situation after a bunch of people start to suspect that he is a CIA agent. What does JJ, who is allegedly a top-of-the-line agent, do in order to defuse the situation? He starts cracking jokes while there are several guns pointed at his head. Instead of shooting him right on the spot, everybody in the room gives him a sort of confused glare, but there is only a fight scene after this happens. In real life, this would have gone the complete opposite way.
I understand that this is a goofy, over-the-top comedy and it isn’t going for a completely grounded story, but it was just a bit jarring and it was hard to get into. Easily the strongest aspect to the film is the dynamic between Dave Bautista and Chloe Coleman, who do their best despite the weak writing. Together, they are sweet and oftentimes fun to watch. It’s a standout duo in an otherwise lackluster movie.
One of the biggest missteps this film takes is that it tries to aim towards teenagers and young children far too much. This is a movie that tries to take itself seriously one minute, and then the next, we watch the macho-man Dave Bautista himself do the Nae Nae dance along to Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow”. Not only did this happen once, but twice. Each time made me shake my head in embarrassment.
Surprisingly enough though, the action sequences here aren’t too bad. There is one moment in the final fifteen minutes or so that was truly entertaining to watch and actually managed to include a couple of good jokes as well. Still, though, this is a remarkably tough film to sit through. Even though it’s only ninety-nine minutes long, it feels much longer. It will probably entertain young audiences occasionally, but I still don’t think that this spy comedy has enough up its sleeve to warrant a watch.
Dave Bautista tries his best in My Spy – a poorly written action-comedy that simply doesn’t have enough good humor up its sleeve or a good story to go along with it.
Overall Grade: D
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for action/violence and language
Directed by: Peter Segal
Distributed by: Amazon Studios (United States), STXfilms (International)
Release Date: June 26, 2020
Running Time: 99 minutes