Jacob Richardson | 10/01/2019
The ‘my’ in the title implies an ownership and responsibility for this disappointing film that one imagines the filmmakers would like to avoid.
Ex-special forces soldier JJ (Dave Bautista) is now a hardened CIA operative, but after an operation where he can’t play subtle, his boss Kim (Ken Jeong) sends him to Chicago on the next mission to surveil the estranged wife and daughter of a high profile terrorist. Holed up in a dingy apartment with his technician Bobbi (Kristen Schaal), JJ seems destined to be bored to death; that is until the child he is watching, Sophie (Chloe Coleman) discover he and Bobbi, and blackmails JJ into not only being her companion and getting close to her mother Kate (Parisa Fitz-Henley), but also into teaching her all his spy tricks.
My Spy is fundamentally a crushing disappointment. Poorly paced, derivative, and, outside of the young Coleman, poorly acted. Most egregious of all is that one could have seen this becoming a classic kids tale, similar to Dwayne Johnson’s vehicle The Tooth Fairy, but instead this seems destined to be largely unwatchable - for children and adults alike.
Without a shadow of a doubt, this is predictable fare. You won’t be surprised by a single second this movie. You’ve seen it all before, done much better elsewhere, and if you’re not busy correctly guessing what comes next, it’s only because the inevitability is making you drift off to sleep.
More frustrating is the pacing. This film, like most, if not all, is structured in three acts, and it is no spoiler for a movie so predictable to lay them out here. In the first act, we see the set up as JJ is tasked with watching Sophie and Kate, culminating in Sophie’s discovery of JJ’s identity. The second act logically follows with JJ being blackmailed and used by Sophie, and teaching her his ways. The third act, then, introduces the danger and Sophie and JJ must team up to take it down. The issue with the pacing is that, with very very little time left in the film, we still haven’t reached the third act. And the third act is so rushed it feels redundant. That makes the film feel long (despite its very short runtime), and the final act feel pointless.
Bautista does an OK job, but also doesn’t seem to be putting any effort whatsoever into this role. His lethargy is a welcome reprieve, though, from the insufferable hamming of Schaal, whose character grates intensely every moment she is allowed screen time. The array of bit characters and supporting characters also disappoints. Indeed, it is only Fitz-Henley and Coleman who deliver performances of any positive note.
Coleman and Fitz-Henley have a genuinely lovely chemistry, and Coleman in particular is frequently impressive and convincing for such a young actress. These two and the familial scenes they are engaged with rescue this movie from the depths of a one star hell.
My Spy is impossibly derivative, lethargically performed and remarkably poorly paced, but for those unused to ever seeing films, or those unfazed by quality, there's enough in the family dynamic here to justify an existence.