Spies in Disguise Offers Family Viewing

Super spy Lance Sterling (Will Smith) and scientist Walter Beckett (Tom Holland) in Spies in Disguise. Blue Sky Studios; TM and © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Spies in Disguise puts a different kind of twist on the genre while pairing Will Smith and Tom Holland together in the animated comedy.

The two characters at the heart of the film are veteran spy Lance Sterling (Will Smith) and scientist Walter Beckett (Tom Holland.  Naturally, the film decides to with a case of opposites attract.  Rather than in a rom-com setting, it’s a spy comedy setting with the two working for The Agency.  Right off the bat, we know that these two are not going to get along.  Walter believes that there is  way to do the job by hugging rather than killing.  Lance is the type who prefers to fight fire with fire.  Naturally, he prefers to work solo.

Joy Jenkins (Reba McIntire) heads up The Agency.  Joy is tested when Internal Affairs agent Marcy Kappel (Rashida Jones) reveals that Lance stole the M-9 Assassin.  Take supervillain Keller “Robohand” Killian (Ben Mendelsohn) into account and we’ve got ourselves a film.

Short film Pigeon: Impossible is in the inspiration behind the film.  The idea of a pigeon spy in general brings a fresh approach to the genre.  The spy genre isn’t really in the need for a makeover but there is a lot of comedy here.  However, scenes in this film probably would fit very well in the Mission: Impossible franchise.

I’d be lying if I said the film wasn’t pulling from spy comedy cliches because it is exactly what led them to work together.  Obviously, this is an idea that works for Spies in Disguise but they take a move right out of the Get Smart playbook by exposing the entire agency.  Where the film takes somewhat of a fresh approach is that Walter is working on a liquid that makes things invisible or something.  Lance Sterling drinks the liquid before Walter even finishes explaining things.  As such, he becomes a pigeon.  The rest is history.

The agency exposure isn’t the only cliche in the film.  No, there just happens to be so much more.  Even when one takes into account that Lance gets turned into a pigeon, you can’t help but think that you’ve seen this film before.  Or something much similar.  Regardless of how much the film borrows from other spy movies, it’s still a film that works.  If James Bond movies are a bit violent for young children and you can’t find a copy of Spy Kids, this film will work just fine.  It’s a spy film at the end of the day but it certainly is not a spoof.  Not surprisingly, Brad Copeland and Lloyd Taylor’s screenplay is one that sets up a sequel.

Spies In Disguise isn’t quite Mission: Impossible for children but it does the job at the end of the day.

DIRECTORS:  Troy Quane, Nick Bruno
SCREENWRITERS:  Brad Copeland and Lloyd Taylor
CAST:  Will Smith, Tom Holland, Ben Mendelsohn, Karen Gillan, Rashida Jones, DJ Khaled, Masi Oka

Blue Sky Studios will release Spies in Disguise in theaters on December 25, 2019. Grade: 3.5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.