Rated PG-13. On Amazon Prime.
A kiddie movie with a James Bond angle, “My Spy” opens with a Bond type mini-movie sequence set in Chernobyl, featuring guns, grenades, a plutonium sphere, a Russian version of “I Will Survive” and — Go get some popcorn, kids — a disembodied head bouncing past the camera.
Former professional wrestler Dave Bautista of those “Guardian of the Galaxy” films fits his heavily tatted 6-foot-6-inch frame into a tight suit and a Russian accent for his role as ex-Army Ranger and CIA super-spy J.J. In follow-up scenes, J.J. is at Langley, Virginia HQ, where his CIA chief boss David Kim (Ken Jeong), this film’s M, puts him on notice and assigns him to a stakeout in Chicago, keeping a high-tech eye on the widow of an international arms dealer and her elementary school-age daughter.
Dave Bautista stars in “My Spy.”Ken Jeong in ‘My Spy.’ Photo courtesy of Amazon.Chloe Coleman and Dave Bautista in ‘My Spy.’ Photo courtesy Amazon.
His partner for this assignment is stereotype tech-nerd Bobbi (Kristen Schaal, a real asset), who worships J.J. For his part, J.J. and his fiancee broke up because of his work. He lives alone with a fish named Blueberry.
The young ex-wife, mother and ER nurse J.J. and Bobbi are assigned to keep an eye on is Kate (Meghan Markle look-alike Parisa Fitz-Henley). Kate and her daughter Sophie (the gifted 11-year-old Chloe Coleman) moved to Chicago from Paris recently. Sophie is an intelligent and resourceful only child with a pet terrier named Ozzie. She’s trying to fit in with a lot of mean kids at school.
When Sophie figures out that J.J. and Bobbi, who have moved in to the same building as Sophie and her mom, are spying on them, using cameras and computer screens, she forces J.J. to become her servant, babysitter, sidekick and surrogate dad. J.J.’s first assignment, be Sophie’s plus-one at a school ice skating event (he’s a non-skater). It’s pratfall time. Yes, it’s “The Pacifier” all over again.
“My Spy” was directed by Peter Segal of that terrible “Get Smart” film with Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway. The screenwriters Erich Hoeber and Jon Hoeber have also brought us “The Meg,” “RED” and “Battleship.”
“My Spy” is surprisingly pretty good (certainly better than “Get Smart”) thanks to a funny script and talented cast. Bautista has already showed serious comedy chops as “GOTG’s Drax.
Kate and Sophie have a cute, gay couple across the hall from them. One of the two, Carlos (the talented Devere Rogers), gives J.J. a “Queer Eye” makeover, of course. The other, Todd (Noah Danby), is an analyst who communicates in caveman monosyllables.
The plot will feature a very cute evocation of “E.T.: The Extraterrestrial” with Bautista as E.T. J.J. and Sophie discover they both speak a little French. Bautista and Coleman create a genuine bond as the mismatched duo. Sophie wants J.J. to teach her such “spy moves” as how to walk away from an explosion.
Yes, a romance will bud between J.J., who shows off some neat dance moves, and Kate. Bautista is a standout in a scene in which students bring friends to school and have them talk about themselves in front of class. Of course, the bad guys will arrive to make Act 3 an action-packed, shoot-’em-up, rescue mission (impossible).
“My Spy” may be familiar territory from start to finish, and you might want to cover the kids’ ears when the Cardi B fires up on the soundtrack. But the actors make the film a winner.
Walk this way.
(“My Spy” contains gun violence, profanity and a gruesome image played for laughs.)