Skip to main content

Cottonwood Heights Journal

Dan's Review: "Spies in Disguise" fun, but forgettable

Dec 24, 2019 07:00AM ● By Dan Metcalf

Will Smith and Tom Holland in Spies in Disguise - © 2019 20th Century Fox.

Spies in Disguise (20th Century Fox)

Rated PG for action, violence, and rude humor.

Starring (voices of) Will Smith, Tom Holland, Rashida Jones, Ben Mendelsohn, Reba McEntire, Rachel Brosnahan, Karen Gillan, DJ Khaled, Masi Oka, Carla Jimenez.

Written by Brad Copeland, Lloyd Taylor, and Cindy Davis, based on the short film "Pigeon: Impossible" by Lucas Martell.

Directed by Troy Quane and Nick Bruno.



It wasn’t long ago that having more than two or three animated features released per year was seen as an oddity.  Great advances in technology have made it so much easier to create and distribute animated feature films on a regular basis, making each release seem less-than unique. A field that used to be dominated by Disney and its partner in crime Pixar is now enhanced by a handful of other successful animation studios, including Dreamworks, Illumination, Sony, Laika, Aardman, Warner Bros., and Blue Sky, each of which churn out a few feature animated films per year on their own. Blue Sky has been especially prolific with its Ice Age franchise for the past 18 years while continuing to experiment with other characters and stories like Rio and The Peanuts Movie along the way. Their latest feature is Spies in Disguise, released just in time for the holidays.

It’s the story of Walter (Tom Holland), a nerdy, yet brilliant engineer who works for a covert U. S. spy organization. When the agency’s top spy Lance Sterling (Will Smith) is falsely accused of stealing deadly technology from the villainous Killian (Ben Mendelsohn), the agency’s director Joy (Reba McEntire) assigns internal affairs officer Marcy (Rashida Jones) along with her team members “Eyes” (Karen Gillan) and “Ears” (DJ Khaled) to bring him in. On the run from his own agency, Lance turns to Walter for help, but is inadvertently transformed into a pigeon when he drinks an experimental potion that he mistakes for a glass of water. On the run and searching for Killian, the unlikely pair must learn to work together as man and pigeon before Killian can identify and wipe out everyone in the agency.

Spies in Disguise is a fine bit of family fun, with above-average animation and visual effects. There is plenty of low-brow humor, mixed with a simple, yet obvious message on tolerance, understanding, and unity in the face of evil.  Being “above average” may get a few more families into theaters over the holidays, but I doubt anyone will remember much about Spies in Disguise after seeing it. It’s just one more animated feature that looks cool enough and makes just enough money to warrant a sequel while lacking any great distinction among so many others. 

"Spies in Disguise" Trailer