Peter Segal (director)
1h 39mins (length)
12 March 2020 (released)
08 April 2020
It seems there comes a time in any Hollywood action star's career that they are required to shed the tough-guy image and take on a family comedy.
Arnold Schwarzenegger dropped the tough guy act when he starred in Kindergarten Cop all the way back in 1990, while Vin Diesel did the same when he fronted The Pacifier in 2005.
And now, it is Dave Bautista's time to have his moment in the PG zone, with the former WWE wrestler headlining My Spy.
Directed by Peter Segal, perhaps best known for helming the likes of 50 First Dates and The Longest Yard, the film follows hardened CIA operative JJ Cena, as played by Bautista, who botches an undercover mission and is forced to head out of the field.
Concerned the retired soldier isn't quite ready to serve as a spy, his boss Kim Trang (Ken Jeong) soon assigns him and tech guru Bobbi Ault (Kristen Schaal) to the rather dull gig of following the movements of emergency room nurse Kate Newton (Parisa Fitz-Henley) and her nine-year-old daughter Sophie (Chloe Coleman) following their relocation to the U.S. from Paris after several of their extended family members become entangled in criminal activity.
However, precocious young Sophie is not one to be messed with. She soon figures out what JJ and Bobbi are up to, using classic blackmail tactics to corner the pair into teaching her what it takes to become a professional spy.
There's a lot of fun to be had in these moments, with the hardman instructing the youngster on how to pass a lie detector test, sneak into an apartment building, and hold her own when it comes to facing school bullies.
Segal explores the familiar themes of the genre, most of which revolve around the true meaning of friendship, and Bautista does his best attempt at conveying the military man with a heart of gold figure.
While nothing new, the 51-year-old does seem to enjoy the scenario, and really shines when he is forced to protect his goldfish Blueberry or dance to Cardi B's I Like It in a restaurant.
Meanwhile, Coleman is great as his tiny sidekick. The Big Little Lies actress brings a lot of tenacity to the part and the moments when she is involved in set action sequences are rather exciting.
But unfortunately, screenwriters Jon and Erich Hoeber have left a lot of plot holes in My Spy, with it unclear as to who exactly the intended audience is.
There's quite a bit of physical violence, a number of sight gags, and dramatic explosions, all of which may be a bit much for some children, while the blossoming romance between JJ and Kate, '90s romcom and classic action flick references, as well as dubious Eastern European accents, all appear to be aimed at the older viewer.
Let's not even get started on the bold decision to sweep aside the suspicious death of Sophie's father, which no one seems to be sad about, or the fact that nobody questions the installation of surveillance cameras in the home of a woman and young girl.
That said, if you're willing to suspend disbelief for approximately 99 minutes, there's certainly enough content and physical comedy to keep the kids entertained.