For many people critics, “My Spy” was the final screening we attended earlier than COVID-19 shut down the world—together with our beloved film theaters. So it’s unexpectedly welcome to revisit the motion comedy now and keep in mind that it’s truly fairly entertaining, moreover being an inadvertent time capsule of easier, happier days.
“My Spy” initially was alleged to open in mid-March and is now obtainable by Amazon streaming for you and your loved ones to take pleasure in at residence. And you’ll take pleasure in it, albeit sporadically. The movie from director Peter Segal (“Get Sensible,” “Bare Gun 33 1/3: The Remaining Insult”) and written by Erich and Jon Hoeber (“Battleship,” “The Meg”) is pure method. It’s massive, beefy man meets candy, cheeky child, with some espionage and explosions thrown in.
What units “My Spy” other than one thing structurally related however tonally odious like “Taking part in With Hearth,” for instance, is the chemistry between Dave Bautista and Chloe Coleman. Every of them brings far more to the endeavor than it in all probability deserves. He’s obtained a wounded vulnerability beneath his hulking persona, she’s obtained a knowledge past her years that by no means veers into precocious child territory. And the Hoebers have woven a delightfully bizarre streak all through the humor that’ll maintain you in your toes. It’s constantly a nice shock in what’s in any other case a predictable story.
Bautista stars as JJ, a former Military Ranger/Particular Ops dangerous ass who’s now having a tough time transferring his killing expertise and sheer brute energy to the CIA, the place his boss (Ken Jeong, amusing in a few scenes) informs him that subtlety and finesse are extra invaluable. After botching a job in Ukraine involving a plutonium deal, JJ is distributed undercover to Chicago to surveil the kinfolk of the dangerous man who obtained away: just lately widowed ER nurse Kate (Parisa Fitz-Henley), and her lonely nine-year-old daughter, Sophie (Coleman), who’ve simply moved there from Paris for a recent begin. JJ’s accomplice on the mission is the overeager tech wiz Bobbi (Kristen Schaal, making impressed selections all through the movie), who’s sensible however has zero discipline expertise. The 2 gap up in a ratty condominium throughout the best way from Sophie and her mother, however Sophie quickly finds their hidden cameras, hunts them down and insists that JJ train her the best way to be a spy, or else she’ll blow their cowl.
The motion ingredient of this action-comedy is extraordinarily perfunctory; what the spies scattered worldwide are on the lookout for, and why, isn’t all that attention-grabbing, and the movie as an entire practically drags to a halt when it bothers with an precise plot. The place it involves life, although, is within the interplay between JJ and Sophie. We see the place this relationship goes from the second they uncover one another—she wants a father determine, he must open his coronary heart—however Coleman and Bautista have such a playful, spiky approach with one another, it’s exhausting to not be charmed. When Sophie blackmails JJ into taking her to an ice-skating get together as a result of her mother has to work, we all know precisely the place it should find yourself: with this muscular, intimidating beast bumbling and stumbling earlier than ending up flat on his again.
Bautista is subjected to fairly a little bit of slapstick right here, and the previous WWE star is actually greater than certified for such over-the-top physicality, however by some means he additionally brings glimmers of understatement and even humanity to those moments. (Upending your expectations of him primarily based on his appears to be like is turning into his interesting trademark, from his soulful portrayal of Drax within the “Guardians of the Galaxy” motion pictures to his temporary however devastating dramatic flip in “Blade Runner 2049.”) Later, when Sophie drags JJ to highschool for folks and particular pals day, we all know that he’ll make a spectacle of himself, but additionally impress the bullies and imply women who’ve tormented and excluded her. And no film like this might be full with out a coaching montage, together with a lie detector take a look at and explosives—and right here’s the place Coleman’s robust display screen presence is so essential. It will be straightforward for the “Large Little Lies” co-star to be lovely and annoying, however she stands as much as Bautista in quietly steely, persistent methods.
Once more, the truth that the PG-13 “My Spy” is prepared to go to some darkish locations alongside the best way makes these apparent developments appear considerably impressed. It additionally makes the copious product placement and hit-and-miss popular culture references appear that rather more groan-worthy, as does the pointless, wedged-in romance between JJ and Sophie’s mother. Nonetheless, should you’re caught at residence with some bored, smart-alecky children of your personal, this’ll put a smile on everybody’s faces, a minimum of for a short time.