My Spy (Amazon)
Starring: Dave Bautista, Chloe Coleman, Kristen Schaal, Ken Jeong, Parisa Fitz-Henley
Directed by Peter Segal
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Just when we thought the ‘F’ word had gone out of formula filmmaking, the fun factor returns to infuse every actor in a film that is surprisingly funny and entertaining. Just putting a bulky wrestler turned, ha ha, actor in the same frame as a 9-year old girl who is more intelligent and a better actor than the wrestler-hero can ever be is a winning formula.
My Spy has more going for it than the wrestler-hero and his diminutive co-star. It takes the buddy -bonding theme to an unexpected crescendo of smart-alecky dialogues and engaging confrontational situations between little Sophie (Chloe Coleman) and big JJ (Dave Bautista).The direction is razor-sharp and the plot wisely retains its self-directed sense of humour even when Bautista takes to the dancefloor with steps that seems stolen from Sunny Deol.
A gauche screen presence is converted into a source of fun. Bautista who is a co-producer on the project knows he can’t act. He lets little Miss Coleman take over the frames, while he’s happy to be playing a socially awkward hulky social embarrassment who needs to be told what to wear and when not to dance.
It’s all very predictable, including the self-mocking climax replete with a cliffhanging airplane, but no less enjoyable for it. There are some episodes in this sharply-written rom-com of endearing hilarity between the fantastic child actor and Bautista. She has a reply to every question that the CIA agent brings up. Watching this pintsized wonder-girl make the oversized duh-huh guy putty in her hands, is all the impetus you need to watch this film.
Also watch out for Kristen Schaal as the hero’s espionage partner, and Bautista’s two gay neighbours who are not what they seem to be. These are characters painted broad but vigorous strokes played by actors who are in it for the fun…a sure-shot entertainer during these surly times.
There is a hint of a sequel at the end. I am all for it, provided Ms Coleman doesn’t grow up and go away.