The coronavirus pandemic has thrown Hollywood’s release schedule into absolute chaos with most studios shifting their slates all the way through 2022. One of the first release date casualties caused by the novel coronavirus was director Peter Segal’s action-comedy My Spy, which was slated for theatrical release in April only to have been picked up for streaming on Amazon Prime on June 26th. My Spy isn’t going to win any points for originality. It’s a by-the-numbers take on subgenre of a macho man action star being teamed with an adorable child. However, My Spy is mostly passable because of the charisma of its leading man in Dave Bautista and his unwavering willingness to make fun of himself.
Bautista stars as JJ, a former special forces soldier who has just transitioned into a new role at the CIA. In the opening sequence, JJ displays his lethal skillset much to the chagrin of his direct supervisor David Kim (Ken Jeong). The action-packed opening sequence clearly illustrates that My Spy isn’t a cutesy comedy for kids as it’s rather surprisingly violent. Leaving behind a body pile of dispatched baddies doesn’t leave the CIA with any leads to follow, so JJ is pushed to the side. With Victor Marquez (Greg Bryk), a nefarious arms dealer, seeking a miniature nuclear weapon, JJ and the goofball tech expert Bobbi (Kristen Schaal) are assigned to monitor Kate (Parisa Fitz-Henley), whose late husband is Victor’s brother and has just relocated from Europe to America with her daughter Sophie (Chloe Coleman). The young girl is having a hard time fitting in to her new surroundings and is an outcast among her new peers.
While engaged in their clandestine operation, the duo of CIA agents are discovered by Sophie who utilizes her leverage to have JJ help her acclimate to her new surroundings. From here My Spy sticks pretty closely to the formula. Sophie sees a new father figure in JJ and tries to set up the spy with her mother. Meanwhile, the macho man is given dating advice from Kate’s two flamboyantly gay neighbors Carlos (Devere Rogers) and Todd (Noah Dalton Danby). Things go well before they turn bad, and just when things seem their darkest Victor Marquez emerges from the shadows and it becomes time for our hero to act.
The screenplay by Jon and Erich Hoeber doesn’t contain many surprises for anyone who has seen Kindergarten Cop or anything similar. The direction by Peter Segal is mostly pedestrian. The film is much more violent than you’d be led to believe by the odd pairing on marketing materials. And yet despite these various issues I was still mostly entertained by My Spy due to the lead performance of Dave Bautista. As he’s proven in the Guardians of the Galaxy films, Bautista has a knack for deadpan humor and My Spy allows him another opportunity to display this comedic gift, especially when Bautista’s JJ recalls graphic and gruesome details of his military past in a grumbling deadpan. The bulking action star also shares some great chemistry with his younger co-star, the two really providing My Spy with its beating heart. Also providing boost to the comedic hijinks is the film’s supporting cast of comedic veterans, headlined by Schaal and Jeong.
My Spy is simply a minor entertainment that succeeds in achieving its modest goals. It’s not particularly original. It’s a little too violent for the younger viewers, though pre-teens and teenagers will be fine. But My Spy pulls off its successes because of its star’s charisma. Dave Bautista saves My Spy from being just another generic odd pairing action movie. I can’t say that this is a great movie, but there are far worse ways to pass 90 minutes – especially today with so few new options,
A fairly generic odd pairing action-comedy, My Spy succeeds despite its familiar scenario because of the commitment of its star, Dave Bautista, to lampooning his macho screen persona.