The 400-Word Review: My Spy
By Sean Collier
June 25, 2020
Dave Bautista is at an odd point in his transition from WWE rings to Hollywood. While he has the stature of his grappling predecessor Dwayne Johnson, he lacks The Rock’s charisma; his unavoidable deadpan does, however, lend itself to effective comedy in certain situations, as seen in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films. He is nowhere near seasoned enough to elevate a middling project, and “My Spy” — under the presentational direction of Peter Segal — is middling at best.
Wait a minute ... this sounds awfully familiar.
The paragraph above is, with the exception of a few nouns, taken verbatim from my review of “Playing With Fire,” the ho-hum family comedy starring wrestler-turned-actor John Cena. Every new action star will eventually be paired with one or more tiny children for a fish-out-of-water comedy; “My Spy” is Bautista’s turn.
Like Cena, Bautista has potential. He has not, however, come close to fully realizing it; he’s several steps behind Cena, in fact.
JJ (Bautista), an ex-special forces tough turned inexperienced CIA operative, is put on surveillance duty by his stereotypically exasperated handler (Ken Jeong) after turning an overseas mission into an explosive brouhaha. Shacked up in a rundown apartment with fumbling technical wiz Bobbi (Kristen Schaal), his task is to monitor Kate (Parisa Fitz-Henley), the widow of a mid-level Russian nogoodnik, and her precocious but melancholy daughter, Sophie (Chloe Coleman).
Unfortunately for our surveillants, clever Sophie figures things out almost immediately. In a plot device that would be eye-rolling in a sitcom, she agrees not to blow JJ’s cover — if he’ll use his spy skills to help her in a variety of ways.
I’d love to tell you that it gets more interesting from there, but trust me: It does not.
It gets a bit more vulgar, anyway, as “My Spy” applies swear words and gunplay like mustard on an underwhelming hot dog. My guess is the producers figured a PG-13 rating would convince the teen market that this isn’t a mere family comedy, but it makes for a dissonant experience; you don’t expect dozens of goons to get shot in a movie where “big man flails on ice-skating rink” is a key set piece.
Thankfully, Schaal remains one of the most naturally hilarious people in the world; she chimes in with a good one-liner every so often. There are funny moments in “My Spy.” Unfortunately, they’re separated by utter boredom.
My Rating: 3/10
“My Spy” is available via streaming and in select cinemas.