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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Viewers will learn a lot about pigeon anatomy and physiology (like the fact that the birds have 360-degree vision and have a single orifice, called the cloaca, for doing "number one and number two").
Promotes nonviolent (or at least nonlethal) means of negotiating and stopping criminals. Also focuses on need for teamwork and accepting that others' skills and talents can help, not hurt, you. Walter and Lance's growing partnership shows that co-workers and friends don't need to be alike to get along or work well together.
Positive Role Models
Lance is brash, arrogant, quick to get rid of opponents, but learns to be more cautious, think of others, try to stop the villain from hurting anyone. Walter is kind, courageous, concerned with helping.
Violence & Scariness
Lots of action sequences and weapons-based violence between Lance and his targets. A frightening villain plans to kill all agents. People are shot at, captured, knocked unconscious; some life-or-death scenes in which it looks like all is (almost) lost. Physical comedy. A parent dies (off-screen, but the emotional impact is felt).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Lots of flirting from Walter's pet pigeon, Lovey, to Lance (in pigeon form). She keeps fluffing up her feathers and sidling up to him; he responds by pushing her away or saying "Not now, girl." Nonsexual nudity: Kimura's naked backside is visible and shown for a while when he emerges from the bath. Lance looks down into his pants as he starts shrinking into a bird and shrieks.
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"Weird" and "weirdo" are often used to insult Walter.
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Products & Purchases
Nothing on-screen, but a few tie-ins off-screen, including a video game.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Gangsters shown drinking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Spies in Disguise is an animated buddy comedy featuring the voices of Will Smith as Lance Sterling, a Bond-like American superspy, and Tom Holland as Walter Beckett, a gadget-happy inventor. After Lance accidentally drinks Walter's invisibility concoction and is turned into a pigeon, the odd-couple duo must work together to save the world from a frightening villain who's using Lance's face to commit criminal acts. There are lots of action sequences involving spy gear and weapons, as well as some life-or-death scenes in which it looks like all is (almost) lost. One character loses a parent; it happens off screen, and no details are discussed, but the emotional impact is felt. The physical comedy includes some rude humor (jokes about bird genitalia, for example), and there's a long scene in which a large, tattooed villain's naked behind is visible a few times. A female pigeon frequently flirts with Lance in his bird form. The chemistry between the voice actors is great, and the film has worthy messages about teamwork and accepting help from others. And for all the action, the movie also clearly promotes nonviolent (or at least nonlethal) means of negotiating with and stopping criminals. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Smith and Holland have great buddy-comedy chemistry and give this weird-in-a-good-way animated adventure a charming, crowd-pleasing vibe. Blue Sky Animation has an impressive track record with animal-focused comedies (four Ice Age films and two Rio movies), and Spies in Disguise continues the studio's streak with the wacky twist of Smith's smooth-talking agent turning into a talking blue pigeon (complete with a tiny tuxedo bow-tie tattoo). Some of the humor may go over very young viewers' heads, but tweens will appreciate the pigeon anatomy jokes, as well as the dark, drone-obsessed adversary (Ben Mendelsohn, who's quite comfortable playing villains and can sound quite chilling).
Although the two leads work mostly as a duo, the talented supporting cast includes Reba McEntire as Sterling's unit director, Rashida Jones as an internal affairs investigator (who believes Sterling has turned traitor), and Karen Gillan and DJ Khaled as her well-intentioned but misguided team. The Mark Ronson-produced soundtrack prominently features Rob Base's "It Takes Two" (for the Gen X parents), "Rocket Fuel" by DJ Shadow and De La Soul, "Fly" by Lucky Daye, and other high-energy tracks. But what really elevates this story is Walter's insistence on nonviolence (or at least nonlethal violence), creating gadgets and tech that focus on distracting and humanizing enemies with glitter-and-kitten bombs and other adorable innovations. The movie's sweet, heartwarming message of peace and understanding is one everyone could use.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.