Reviewed by: Ruth Eshuis
Invasive surveillance by spies of people’s private lives
9 year old girl
Spies in the Bible
Dave Bautista … JJ
Chloe Coleman … Sophie
Kristen Schaal … Bobbi
Greg Bryk … Marquez
Ken Jeong … Kim
Parisa Fitz-Henley … Kate
Nicola Correia-Damude … Christina
Laura Cilevitz … Ms. Besser
Noah Dalton Danby (Noah Danby) … Todd
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Action comedies for youth have often delighted me but this film so repelled my conscience that I only got one hour into the 1 hour 40 minutes then walked out. Nevertheless, I’ll attempt to give you an idea of its content.
First let’s survey the situation. This spy mystery features a demoted CIA soldier named JJ (Dave Bautista) who finds himself blackmailed by savvy 9-year-old Sophie (Chloe Coleman), whose family he is meant to be surveilling. While JJ teaches her the ins and outs of espionage, the seemingly-sweet Sophie forces him to get in touch with his civilian side—in other words, to appreciate life, fun and relationships. But as JJ continues to break all the rules will he be able to keep his new friends, AND foil a terrorist plot?
In terms of moviemaking, “My Spy” certainly ticks boxes for casting, visual effects and soundtrack. I love the creative choice to pair slow-motion lunges with opera, perfectly suiting the open-mouthed and wide-eyed expressions of criminals thrown by a blast. I also feel blown away by the expressive acting skills of all main characters. There are fun snippets of songs used to highlight Bautista’s willingness to laugh at himself in his macho role. Unfortunately, though, any amount of finesse in these factors is dragged down by the script’s general immorality.
Other positives include some genuinely hilarious gags and some harmless slapstick moments which I’m sure producers enjoyed setting up.
Negative content mainly involves frequent profanities, heavy crudity, shocking lawlessness, bullying and manipulation. These go well beyond your typical action comedy. For example, misuses of the Almighty’s names occur at a rate of about one every four minutes, and various body parts are also mentioned as curses. Steroid use is shrugged off. A government surveillance expert shares a tip for succeeding as a “genius pervert.” Adults repay bullying for bullying on small children. Intellectual adultery is played with in jest as classroom mothers walk away from their husbands to feel a man’s muscled arm and see his war scars, while their eyes look him up and down suggestively. In presence of a child, a main character suggests killing her and torching the house to cover it up. As you can see, the film is purposefully provocative, which our society now sees as ‘just entertainment,’ yet we, as Christians, know can be very harmful in reality.
Other similar factors are stereotype issues such as use of frequent allusions to LGBT people in somewhat ridiculous fashion, and ‘geek’ tech specialization, which the film pairs with knitted sweaters, ugliness, Lesbianism and social awkwardness. Someone is teased about their unemployment status. A soldier talks to children about his job “taking out the garbage: human trash” and gives too much detail about what soldiers sometimes have to eat and drink in the wilderness.
Other factors to be aware of include occasional sightings of alcohol, and a teacher’s unprofessional behavior. There are also product placements for a prominent corn crisp brand and two popular new technologies.
Another aspect particularly troubling to me is the use of child actors in roles that require deliberate evil and adult speech—such as casually and falsely referring to one’s mother as working in prostitution, or to a man seducing her. What healthy 9-year-old talks in this way? A child also engages in highly risky activities such as getting herself invited into strangers’ houses on false pretenses, handling weapons without training and confronting dangerous people. Adults barely hesitate to train her in how to lie convincingly and attack people. Other child actors are heavily involved in insulting language, cyber-bullying and even physical attacks, and as a comedy this can not be sufficiently addressed in an appropriate way afterward for the viewer, such as to impress the issue’s seriousness and direct strugglers to help.
Deeply underlying everything, there is a distinct cold-heartedness about life, and shallowness regarding character, friendship and what are meant to be noble roles in society. We like to see children’s purity celebrated and protected, not shattered and joked about. We need to see role models who do not practice deceit in order to succeed, but who value truth and goodness. And although the world is a dark place at times, the answer is not to become hardened and ‘cool’ or to make friends with the darkness. The answer is to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness, take refuge and comfort in Him, and trust Him to work out the messy details, as He is clearly doing by provision of our Lord Jesus, Who solves so many of our huge problems.
In summary, “My Spy” is the sort of film that grieves us as Christians and offends in every way. Its disrespect to both God and people is troublesome, and I struggle to believe that any Believer could enjoy it. Children and teens especially need to be protected from its immorality and heavy scariness, and neither should adults condone it.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.