Movie Review: My Spy
Clearly a film made for veterans of action star Dave Bautista’s career, My Spy shows us the capable range he has. If he isn’t power bombing people through tables, falling out of trains in Spectre or looking miserable in Bushwick, then the man is likely to be found training up a child army of super spies in the hopes of kindling a child-friendly series of James Bond knock-offs. More fool those who watched this because they had nothing else to do, in a year where the release schedule has been so oddly weak, movie buffs and film hounds will clamour for any content they can find or fixate on. My Spy will find an audience not because it is good, but because it is the only content Amazon Prime have available to those that need to distract their children with flashing images so they can power nap on the couch.
It works, then, as a distractor. My Spy will certainly engage any audience member young enough not to understand what is going on. Usually these films are creative, or at the very least, colourful. But My Spy’s market and strategy is one that tries to blend action and odd seconds of grittiness for adults with fart jokes and flossing for the young generation of tomorrow. This blend works about as well as one would expect. It feels like a true-crime audiobook read by Jerry Seinfeld. Such a jarring tonal shift is present at every turn, the clear desire for the executive suits to appeal to both demographics leaves a fumbled mess in the wake of very few ideas. A smartly suited agent looking to crack a terrorist cell should not be dabbing, nor should a child whose sole joy is ice-skating be anywhere close to rocket launchers or secret service documents.
Bautista fare about as well as he can, here. He’s trying to find that particular niche between children’s entertainer and future action hero. While it is somewhat troubling to see him squander his chances of being a great and valuable asset to the genre, My Spy will, most likely, not cause him any harm. It takes much more than this to stifle a career so dependent on Marvel and misery. Director Peter Segal is not known to be the face of quality, either, his work on 50 First Dates and Grudge Match should be more than enough to warn people away. He is dependable, or rather, used to be. Naked Gun 33 1⁄3: The Final Insult, for all its fun, seems to have been a one-time offering of quality in a career that has spanned over thirty years and given just over ninety minutes of quality.
My Spy is a strange one, mainly due to that looming question that mocks anyone who wishes to be subjective about a film made for kids. Its lead story evolves on an ice rink and refuses to leave those slippery surfaces. Harmless? No, not particularly. For the same reason Illumination Studios and their liquified garbage will spoil the creativity young creatives have, so too shall My Spy. There is nothing wrong with it, but it is a truly dangerous commodity that will quell any sincere interest in the arts. Bleak and mundane, it offers no hope of innocent fun, the harsh knocks of the spy genre are sedated and make way for a rather predictable setlist of caricatures. When the aim of child-oriented media is to educate and entertain at the same time, it is a shame to see how few are willing to push the boundaries and move past the stifled, emotionless entities found within this awful piece.