Movie #114 2021: Spies in Disguise (2019)

Spies in Disguise is one of the last new releases I remember being in cinemas before anyone knew what the hell ‘Coronavirus’ meant. How sad is that? After actually watching the movie, it almost feels like it will be forgotten in the world of animated movies for many year to come because that asshole COVID took over and pushed the world to one side. But does it deserve any of that? Let’s see.

Spies is almost a spoof of James Bond and other generic spy movies of the like, except it’s full of humour and kid-friendly action sequences. Starring Will Smith as the main super spy who goes by the name of Lance Sterling and Tom Holland as his new-found teenage brainiac sidekick Walter, the pair get off to a rocky start as polar opposites of one another. However, things take an unexpected fantastical turn, leaving them to rely on each other more than they ever expected to.

First of all: SPOILER ALERT: ……….the whole turning black animated characters into animals thing is really getting out of hand……. Disney specifically are getting really obsessed with that trope, with movies such as The Princess and the Frog and, more recently, Soul turning African American characters into pets. Even before that, movies like The Emperor’s New Groove was turning people of colour into llamas. It needs to stop at this point, because it’s starting to get extremely uncomfortable.

Questionable pigeon aside, this movie has a surprisingly hilarious script that sadly so many will miss out on because of the shadow of the COVID outbreak. There are so many one-liners and gags that land perfectly – it definitely passes the six laugh test. I’m not saying all of the jokes were great, but the mixture of puns and physical comedy was really impressive. Thankfully, Spies in Disguise was recently added to Disney+, so hopefully more viewers will take an interest and give it a watch. 

Not only is the script remarkably funny, but the voice cast also get an A+. Will Smith goes full-on old school Will Smith, pulling out all the comedic stops and is the stand out of the movie. Tom Holland is the same as he is in everything – squeaky, nerdy, yet charming – but it works. Whilst there’s not enough of her, Rashida Jones forever. And Karen Gillan is Scottish(!) which is great to see… or hear.

Whilst we’re on the audio, Mark Ronson did a brilliant job on the music here – probably one of the better popular music soundtracks I’ve seen in an animated movie. Sadly though, sometimes the story is a little all over the place and it was difficult to see what the point was. There were several plot threads going on at once, which would no doubt confuse the younger viewer. However, the same old feel-good movie tropes (not including the one I mentioned earlier – that one is not much-loved) all play out by the end and it all starts to make sense even though it’s a tad incoherent in the mid-section. 

Although it’s definitely not a Disney classic, Spies in Disguise was certainly a lot of fun. I’m not entirely sure why critics hate it so much (other than maybe the pigeon thing…) because it was really funny and mostly entertaining in my opinion.

Not perfect – obviously – but there’s a lot to like here, and it’s truly a shame that it didn’t get much attention in theatres. Damn it, Miss ‘Rona.

Spies in Disguise is available to stream on Disney+ in the UK.

TQR Category Ratings:

Performance: 
Cinematography: 
Soundtrack: 
Costume & Set Design: 
Plot: 
Overall Rating: ½

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