The Junior Spy Agency

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
The Junior Spy Agency Movie Poster Image
Kid-friendly spy parody is silly but very predictable.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 94 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Meant to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

Good triumphs. Everyone deserves a second chance.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Emma, the female partner in the Junior Spy Agency, is industrious and honest and has firm goals. Her male counterpart, Sam Steele, Jr., is a bit of a maverick -- he doesn't like academics, he likes girls, and, although he's energetic, he's not very bright. Villains are inept, buffoonish, and immature. Parents are portrayed as concerned and responsible. No ethnic diversity.

Violence & Scariness

Mild, comic suspense. Two thieves constantly bicker and scuffle. A bully briefly accosts the heroes, knocking their possessions to the ground.

Sexy Stuff
Language

Some insult humor: "fat," "idiot," "stupid." A dog farts. Someone has "to pee."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Junior Spy Agency is meant to be a kids' spoof on spy movies. A silly plot finds the two young heroes and their basset hound on the trail of a long-missing Russian chalice said to have been hidden in America during the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. Sam and Emma wear fedoras and trench coats, and Sam playfully exaggerates acting the spy throughout. Their search finds them on a race with both a Russian undercover agent and a troupe of buffoonish villains. Other than one dog fart, a few insults, and a mention of "peeing," it's a harmless, scare-free jaunt through familiar territory. The movie is a sequel to Sam Steele and the Junior Detective Agency (2011) and was released earlier under the title Sam Steele and the Crystal Chalice.

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What's the story?

Hot on the trail of a long-missing chalice owned by Russian royalty, Sam Steele (Jacob Hays) and Emma (Katherine McNamara) are back in business in THE JUNIOR SPY AGENCY. What they don't know is that a surprising Russian undercover agent, as well as three ridiculously inept thieves, are after the chalice, too. The Agency's mission takes them to the Presidential Suite of a luxury hotel and a house once occupied by the valet of Peter the Great. Sam and Emma even come to suspect the kindly antiques dealer (Dee Wallace) who hired them in the first place. The clues pile up, and danger accelerates as the villains learn of the kids' involvement. It's only a matter of time until their paths cross and the fate of Crystal Chalice is resolved.

Is it any good?

Kids will probably enjoy the antics of Sam Steele as he indulges in his spy-like behavior. He can roll his eyes and use a magnifying glass on a moment's notice. But, beyond the gestures, he's not very effective, and it's up to Emma to provide the smarts. The villains will get laughs, too, but watching a very dumb crook dance with a mop can only sustain interest for a few moments. Adult performances, with few exceptions (Dee Wallace), are abysmal. The writing and directing is by the numbers at best. So, although it may have a certain charm for young viewers, there are many better alternatives.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why and how often filmmakers use comic, bumbling villains in movies for kids. Since they can't use realistic, scary antagonists, can you think of alternatives for providing the necessary conflict? 

  • Look up the word "parody." How is The Junior Spy Agency a parody?

  • Though Emma and Sam are partners, they work in different ways. How does each complement the other?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love adventure

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