My Spy

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
My Spy Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Funny but formulaic action comedy has violence, language.
  • PG-13
  • 2020
  • 99 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 19 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 22 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Positive messages include open communication between co-workers and partners, importance of strong romantic and family relationships, fostering close friendships based on respect and honesty. Movie also makes clear that people/relationships are more important than work. On negative side, it reinforces some stereotypes (especially around people who are part of LGBTQ community).

Positive Role Models & Representations

JJ is strong, brave, dedicated. He's grumpy but gets attached to Sophie, softens his heart toward her and her mom. Bobbi is very smart and resourceful, wants to learn from and collaborate with JJ. Sophie is a courageous and intelligent girl who's committed to helping her mother and others. Characters spy on and deceive each other, but typically in service of what they believe to be the greater good. Movie is fairly diverse, with several key characters of color and an LGBTQ couple (one of whom is portrayed in a somewhat stereotypically flamboyant way). One character is called a lesbian in an off-handed way when there's zero evidence she is one, suggesting stereotype based on the way she looks.

Violence

Several scenes of violence, including hand-to-hand fights, shoot-outs, explosions, slow-motion sequences in which people are shot, injured, killed, even decapitated (played for laughs, not horror). Bobbi accidentally throws a knife that hits JJ in the thigh. He doesn't react, but she throws up. A man takes Sophie hostage, threatens to kill her. Sophie cries in terror in a few scenes, is in danger during movie's climax. Kate punches, kicks JJ when she believes he's a stranger who has hurt Sophie. Characters hold one another at gun point. Some arguing/yelling.

Sex

A few women give JJ's body appraising looks; one gives him her phone number. JJ and Kate go on a date, dance, and flirt. Later they hold hands.

Language

Occasional language includes "s--t," "d--k," "holy hell," "ass," "bitch," "WTF" (in text), "what the hell," "damn," "took a dump," "balls," and "piss me off." "Jesus Christ" as an exclamation. A Cardi B song on the soundtrack includes "bitch," "bitches," and "s--t" several times.

Consumerism

Featured or mentioned brands include Range Rover, MacBook, iPhone, Notting Hill movie, Waze app.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink at a restaurant/dinner.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that My Spy is a spy comedy starring Dave Bautista as JJ, a CIA agent who ends up befriending a precocious 9-year-old girl (Chloe Coleman) while surveilling her family. Although it's targeted at tweens, it has more strong language than you might expect, including "s--t," "d--k," "bitch," "ass," and "Jesus Christ." The violence is also a bit too intense for really young kids: Expect scenes of shoot-outs, deaths, stabbings, attacks, threats, explosions, and even a quick glimpse of a decapitated head (though that scene is more comical than horrifying). A child is in danger in climactic scenes. There's a bit of romance and some ogling of JJ; adults drink wine with dinner. While the movie offers a racially diverse cast and themes of courage, communication, and teamwork, characters also deceive each other, and some characters and jokes are based in stereotypes about the LGBTQ community.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bytheshapetalks June 27, 2020

i really enjoyed it!

this movie is really good and is a great watch for the family. there is mild action, but the story is heartwarming. yes, it is not a new idea, but it is really... Continue reading
Adult Written byMOMMMMY June 30, 2020

BEWARE - Cute but THAT LANGUAGE though...

WHY WHY WHY do they keep making KIDS movies with such bad language. The thing is, those words serve NO PURPOSE. If you're making a movie for adults, then e... Continue reading
Kid, 6 years old June 22, 2020

very good movie but there is tonnes of languege and it has alot of violence

i watched this at 8 by my one and i was suprissed how much languege there was.
Kid, 11 years old July 12, 2020

An awesome movie for families with kids 11 and up!

My spy is a funny and exciting movie. I personally like My spy because of all the humor and action it has. But lot's of the humor contains bad language, in... Continue reading

What's the story?

MY SPY opens during a covert deal in which CIA agent JJ (Dave Bautista) is outed as a spy because his "Russian accent sounds like Mickey Rourke's in Iron Man 2." Once the dust settles and JJ has killed nearly everyone in the room, he returns to CIA headquarters. There, his supervisor, Agent Kim (Ken Jeong), confronts JJ about the fact that he let one of the criminal masterminds escape with nuclear weapon codes. Partially as punishment, JJ is teamed with ops partner Bobbi (Kristen Schaal) on a surveillance mission in Chicago to watch over the young widow and daughter of a dead arms dealer. While in Chicago, JJ and Bobbi are discovered by their 9-year-old subject, Sophie (Chloe Coleman), who blackmails JJ into giving her spy lessons (and generally doing what she says). If he doesn't, she'll tell her mom, Kate (Parisa Fitz-Henley), the truth about what's going on.

Is it any good?

Scene-stealing child star Coleman outperforms Bautista in this familiar but fun tough-guy-meets-adorable-kid adventure comedy that's a direct descendant of Kindergarten Cop. Bautista, who's fabulous as Drax in the Guardians of the Galaxy/Avengers movies, brings a similar, somewhat awkward persona to My Spy, but he's not quite as suave or charismatic as Dwayne Johnson or Arnold Schwarzenegger, which impacts his ability to completely pull off the role. He's particularly lacking in the light romantic chemistry that's supposed to blossom between JJ and Kate (something The Rock is great at but that Schwarzenegger has similarly struggled with throughout his career).

Since the adults' romance is a secondary concern here, what really stands out is how great Coleman is with Bautista, and Schaal's performance as JJ's eager partner, Bobbi. The two actresses metaphorically carry Bautista on their shoulders. His butt-kicking, eye-squinting, feel-no-pain demeanor, after all, can only garner so many laughs. But thanks to Schaal's comic timing and Coleman's surprisingly magnetic presence, the movie is better than you'd expect. An off-putting misstep is the stereotypical depiction of Kate and Sophie's gay neighbors (one of whom is flamboyant and one of whom never speaks) and a throwaway line about whether Bobbi is a lesbian. The movie also has a bit more violence and language than is typical for tween-targeted family films. Still, while it's definitely formulaic, there's enough in My Spy to enjoy that it should make for a fun movie-of-the-week pick.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of tough-guy-meets-kid comedies like My Spy. What's compelling about them? What are some other examples, and how do they compare to this one?

  • Who do you consider a role model in the movie? What character strengths do they demonstrate? Why are teamwork and communication important traits?

  • Discuss the violence in the story. Is it realistic, stylized, cartoonish, or a combination? What kind of violence has the most impact?

  • Did you notice any stereotypes in the movie? Why are stereotypes harmful? Why is diverse, accurate representation in the media so important?

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