Holiday movie / ‘My Spy’ (PG) ***

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  • “My Spy”  (PG) ***

THE combination of a tough guy not oversupplied with smarts and a precocious singe-digit-aged girl has underpinned several movies.

The most recent of these sees Dave Bautista as JJ, a CIA field man who, after a mission in which too many of his team ended up dead, gets assigned to lead Bobbi (Kristen Schaal) on an undercover surveillance task. 

JJ is big, fast in action but not totally boofy. Bobbi may look plain and be JJ’s subordinate but she’s got top smarts and, one might reasonably suspect, would like to spend a little time doing more with JJ than just watching a room full of monitors.

The subject of their task is Kate (Parisa Fitz-Henry), the widow of a guy whose brother is desperate to locate some secret information to use to further illegal ambitions. 

Kate and the dead guy’s daughter, nine-year-old Sophie (Chloe Coleman), has bigtime smarts.  Sophie is chafing at living a secluded life and attending a school where she has no real chums. And that’s where “My Spy” starts to gather momentum.

Sophie finds one of the cameras that JJ and Bobbi have planted in Kate’s apartment, and works out their purpose. This is exciting.  She’d like to become a spy. And the best way to get her skills noticed is through JJ.

If you’ve got this far thinking that ”My Spy” is a thriller, watching it will modify that opinion pretty quickly. It’s a comedy evoking the era when Hollywood comedies were smart rather than potboilers fuelled by American TV’s voracious demand for low-energy fodder for low-energy minds. I watched “My Spy” at its first Canberra screening regretting that nobody else was there to laugh with me.

Or to share the undeniable tension of its denouement that redefines the term “cliff-hanger”. 

The screenplay for “My Spy” by brothers Erich and Jon Hoeber is unlikely to get nominated for peer-group or audience awards. But it’s light enough and has enough charm to make amends for the brothers’ sole award nomination – Worst Screenplay at the 2012 Razzies. And director Peter Segal’s treatment of it is deft enough to be easily-digested as summer holiday season fodder. 

At all cinemas

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REVIEW OVERVIEW
”My Spy”  (PG) ***
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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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