Spies Like Us

Movie review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Spies Like Us Movie Poster Image
Dated '80s comedy has strong language, few laughs.
  • PG
  • 1985
  • 102 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Messages about loyalty to friends, teams, and country are weakly conveyed. Some dated sexism.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most characters are cartoonish exaggerations. Fitz-Hume is lazy and only interested in having fun. He wants to advance in his career based on privilege without having to put in any work. He only sees women as objects for his pleasure. Millbarge is smart and hardworking, but readily goes along with Fitz-Hume's shenanigans. But he's the one who ultimately insists on doing the right thing. 

Violence

No blood or gore. Gunfire fights occasionally show people falling to the ground. A few fights with punching and kicking. A couple of slaps. Bad guys threaten with knives and swords. A couple of large explosions. Enemies shot with tranquilizer darts later seen coming to. A man grabs and holds a woman's breasts for a minute or so before she moves his hands away.

Sex

Implied sex with adults in bed with covers up to their upper chests, and in tents together kissing in or on sleeping bags. A few kisses. Several women in bras and underwear. A man grabs and holds a woman's breasts for a minute or so before she moves his hands away. A background poster shows topless women. Mention that a man's penis is what got him through high school. Brief mention of a woman "putting out" after being taken out to dinner. A joke about penetration. Some body-part humor.

Language

"Bulls--t," "d--k," "balls," "p---y," "hell," "goddammit"; "Jesus" and "Jesus Christ" as exclamations, and "damn."

Consumerism

Lucky Charms, Pepsi, JC Penney, MTV, and Trivial Pursuit mentioned or shown. A lingering shot with labels prominently displayed by the main characters show Old El Paso tortilla chips and Budweiser.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Unappealing military leaders frequently drink alcohol while conducting business. Two glasses of wine behind a couple in bed during the day. A flask used to add to a coffee cup. Soldiers pass a bottle around a campfire.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Spies Like Us is a 1985 comedy-adventure starring old-school SNL alums Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd. Most negative content is pretty mild: some gunfights, fistfights, and bad guys with knives and swords, but no blood or gore; women in bras and underwear (including a brief glimpse of a poster in the background with topless women), implied sex, and a few kisses. A man grabs and holds a woman's breasts for a minute or so before she moves his hands away. Some dated sexism ("putting out" after a date, etc.) offers a chance to talk about how women are portrayed in movies, and whether that's changed much since the '80s. Profanity isn't frequent but is sometimes strong, including "d--k," "p---y," and "bulls--t." There's some drinking, and some body-part humor. Role models and positive messages are weak in this comedy that's meant to entertain.

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What's the story?

In SPIES LIKE US, low-level Washington bureaucrats Emmett Fitz-Hume (Chevy Chase) and Austin Millbarge (Dan Aykroyd) dream of more than pencil-pushing. It looks like their dreams are about to come true when they're suddenly promoted to field agents and sent to an intensive training camp. Their very first mission takes them all the way to Pakistan, with no idea what their mission goal is and why the KGB always seems to be one step ahead of them. After falling out of the frying pan and into the fire, can they learn to work with some unlikely allies to prevent a nuclear disaster?

Is it any good?

This 1985 comedy-adventure has little to offer other than the star power of two Saturday Night Live alumni. Unfortunately, neither of the talented comic actors brought their A game to the project. Spies Like Us offers mild laughs, mostly for physical comedy, but even those are few and far between, and done so much better elsewhere. And the script never seems to find the right balance between road movie and spy send-up. The jokes fall flat, and the dated sexism, often played for laughs, adds no enjoyment.

Most of the content's fine for young teens and up who can handle the strong language, but without any built-in affection for the co-stars, it's unlikely to hold their interest. At least it could spark an interesting conversation about how women are represented in movies, then and now.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the strong language in Spies Like Us. Is it realistic? How much is OK in movies or on TV?

  • Have you seen any other spy-movie spoofs? How does this one compare? Which is your favorite?

  • Has the way women are shown in movies changed since the mid-'80s? Who are some of your favorite female characters in movies? What do you like about them?

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